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Title: The Goose Man

Author: Jacob Wassermann

Release Date: May 6, 2008 [EBook #25345]

Language: English

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The GOOSE MAN

by Jacob Wassermann

Author of
“THE WORLD’S ILLUSION”

Authorized translation by
ALLEN W. PORTERFIELD


Das Gänsemännchen

GROSSET & DUNLAP ~ Publishers
by arrangement with
HARCOURT, BRACE & COMPANY

NOTE

The first chapter, “A Mother Seeks Her Son,” and sections I and II of the second chapter, “Foes, Brothers, a Friend, and a Mask,” were translated by Ludwig Lewisohn. The rest of the book has been translated by Allen W. Porterfield. The title, “The Goose Man” (“Das Gänsemännchen”), refers to the famous statue of that name in Nuremberg.

PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.

CONTENTS
PAGE
A Mother Seeks Her Son1
Foes, Brothers, A Friend and a Mask23
The Nero of To-day44
Inspector Jordan and His Children65
Voices from Without and Voices from Within97
In Memory of a Dream Figure123
Daniel and Gertrude153
The Glass Case Breaks178
Tres Faciunt Collegium204
Philippina Starts a Fire239
Eleanore277
The Room with the Withered Flowers323
The Promethean Symphony352
Dorothea405
The Devil Leaves the House in Flames435
But Aside, Who Is It?455

[1]THE GOOSE MAN

A MOTHER SEEKS HER SON

I

The landscape shows many shades of green; deep forests, mostly coniferous, extend from the valley of the Rednitz to that of the Tauber. Yet the villages lie in the midst of great circles of cultivated land, for the tillage of man is immemorial here. Around the many weirs the grass grows higher, so high often that you can see only the beaks of the droves of geese, and were it not for their cackle you might take these beaks to be strangely mobile flowers.

The little town of Eschenbach lies quite flat on the plain. In it a fragment of the Middle Ages has survived, but no strangers know it, since hours of travel divide it from any railway. Ansbach is the nearest point in the great system of modern traffic; to get there you must use a stage-coach. And that is as true to-day as it was in the days when Gottfried Nothafft, the weaver, lived there.

The town walls are overgrown with moss and ivy; the old drawbridges still cross the moats and take you through the round, ruined gates into the streets. The houses have bay-windows and far-projecting overhangs, and their interlacing beams look like the criss-cross of muscles on an anatomical chart.

Concerning the poet who was once born here and who sang the song of Parsifal, all living memory has faded. Perhaps the fountains whisper of him by night; perhaps sometimes when the moon is up, his shadow hovers about the church or the town-hall. The men and women know nothing of him any more.

The little house of the weaver, withdrawn by a short distance from the street, stood not far from the inn at the sign of the Ox. Three worn steps took you to its door, and six windows looked out upon the quiet square. It is strange to reflect that the spirit of [2]modern industrialism hewed its destructive path even to this forgotten nook of the world.

In 1849, at the time of Gottfried Nothafft’s marriage—his wife, Marian, was one of the two Höllriegel sisters of Nuremberg—he had still been able to earn a tolerable living. So the couple desired a child, but desired it for years in vain. Often, at the end of the day’s work, when Gottfried sat on the bench in front of his house and smoked his pipe, he would say: “How good it would be if we had a son.” Marian would fall silent and lower her eyes.

As time passed, he stopped saying that, because he would not put the woman to shame. But his expression betrayed his desire all the more clearly.

II

A day came on which his trade seemed to come to a halt. The weavers in all the land complained that they could not keep their old pace. It was as though a creeping paralysis had come upon them. The market prices suddenly dropped, and the character of the goods was changed.

This took place toward the end of the eighteen hundred and fifties, when the new power looms were being introduced from America. No toil profited anything. The cheap product which the machines could furnish destroyed the sale of the hand-made weaves.

At first Gottfried Nothafft refused to be cast down. Thus the wheel of a machine will run on for a space after the power has been cut off. But gradually his courage failed. His hair turned grey in a single winter, and at the age of forty-five he was a broken man.

And just as poverty appeared threatening at their door, and the soul of Marian began to be stained by hatred, the longing of the couple was fulfilled, and the wife became pregnant in the tenth year of their marriage.

The hatred which she nourished was directed against the power loom. In her dreams she saw the machine as a monster with thighs of steel, which screamed out its malignity and devoured the hearts of men. She was embittered by the injustice of a process which gave to impudence and sloth the product that had once come thoughtfully and naturally from the careful hands of men.

One journeyman after another had to be discharged, and one [3]hand-loom after another to be stored in the attic. On many days Marian would slip up the stairs and crouch for hours beside the looms, which had once been set in motion by a determinable and beneficent exertion and were like corpses now.

Gottfried wandered across country, peddling the stock of goods he had on hand. Once on his return he brought with him a piece of machine-made cloth which a merchant of Nördlingen had given him. “Look, Marian, see what sort of stuff it is,” he said, and handed it to her. But Marian drew her hand away, and shuddered as though she had seen the booty of a murderer.

After the birth of her boy she lost these morbid feelings; Gottfried on the other hand seemed to dwindle from month to month. Though he outlasted the years, there was no cheer left in him and he got no comfort even from his growing boy. When he had sold all his own wares, he took those of others, and dragged himself wearily in summer and winter from village to village.

In spite of the scarcity that prevailed in the house, Marian was convinced that Gottfried had put by money, and certain hints which he threw out confirmed her in this hope. It was one of his peculiar views that it was better to leave his wife in the dark regarding the true state of their fortunes. As their circumstances grew worse, he became wholly silent on this point.

III

On the square of the grain merchants in Nuremberg, Jason Philip Schimmelweis, the husband of Marian’s sister, had his bookbinder’s shop.

Schimmelweis was a Westphalian. Hatred against the junkers and the priests had driven him to this Protestant city of the South, where from the beginning he had acquired the respect of people through his ready wit and speech. Theresa Höllriegel had lodged in the house in which he opened his shop, and gained her living as a seamstress. He had thought that she had some money, but it had proved to be too little for his ambitious notions. When he discovered that, he treated Theresa as though she had cheated him.

He held his trade in contempt, and was ambitious of greater things. He felt that he was called to be a bookseller; but he had no capital wherewith to realise this plan. So he sat morosely in his subterranean shop, pasted and folded and quarrelled with his lot, and in his hours of leisure read the writings of socialists and freethinkers.

[4]

It was the Autumn in which the war against France was raging. On that very morning had come the news of the battle of Sedan. All the church bells were ringing.

To the surprise of Jason Philip, Gottfried Nothafft stepped into his shop. His long, patriarchal beard and tall stature gave something venerable to his appearance, even though his face looked tired and his eyes were dull.

“God bless you, brother,” he said and held out his hand. “The fatherland has better luck than its citizens.”

Schimmelweis, who did not like the visits of kinsmen, returned the salutation with careful coolness. His features did not brighten until he heard that his brother-in-law was stopping at the Red Cock Inn. He asked what errand had brought Gottfried to the city.

“I must have a talk with you,” Nothafft replied.

They entered a room behind the shop and sat down. Jason Philip’s eyes harboured even now a definitely negative answer to any proposal that might cost him money or trouble. But he was to be agreeably disappointed.

“I want to tell you, brother,” Gottfried Nothafft said, “that I have put by three thousand taler during the nineteen years of my married life. And since I have the feeling that I am not long for this world, I have come to ask you to take charge of the money for Marian and the boy. It has been troublesome enough not to touch it in these evil times that have come. Marian knows nothing of it, and I don’t want her to know. She is a weak woman, and women do not understand money nor the worth and dignity it has when it has been earned so bitterly hard. In some hour of difficulty she would begin to use it, and presently it would be gone. But I want to ease Daniel’s entry into life, when his years of training and apprenticeship are over. He is twelve now. In another twelve years he will be, God willing, a man. You can help Marian with the interest, and all I ask of you is to be silent and to act a father’s part toward the boy when I shall be no more.”

Jason Philip Schimmelweis arose. He was moved and wrung Gottfried Nothafft’s hand. “You may rely upon me,” he said, “as you would on the Bank of England.”

“I thought that would be your answer, brother, and that is why I came.”

He put down on the table three thousand taler in bank notes of the realm, and Jason Philip wrote out a receipt. Then he urged him to stay that night at his house. But Gottfried Nothafft [5]said that he must return home to his wife and child, and that a single night in the noisy city had been enough for him.

When they returned to the shop, they found Theresa sitting there. In her lap she held Philippina, her first-born, who was three years old. The child had a large head and homely features. Gottfried hardly stopped to answer his sister-in-law’s questions. Later Theresa asked her husband what Gottfried’s business had been. Jason Philip answered brusquely: “Nothing a woman would understand.”

Three days later Gottfried sent back the receipt. On the back of it he had written: “The paper is of no use; it might even betray my secret. I have your word and your hand. That is enough. With thanks for your friendship and your services, I am your faithful kinsman, Gottfried Nothafft.”

IV

Before peace had been made with France, Gottfried lay down to die. He was buried in the little churchyard by the wall, and a cross was set upon his grave.

Jason Philip and Theresa had come to the funeral, and stayed for three days. An examination of her inheritance showed, to Marian’s consternation, that there were not twenty taler in the house, and what she saw ahead of her was a life of wretchedness and want. Jason Philip’s counsel and his plan were a genuine consolation to her, and his declaration that he would stand by her to the best of his ability eased her heart.

It was determined that she was to open a little shop, and Jason advanced her one hundred taler. All the while he had the air of a made man. He held his head high, and his fat little cheeks glowed with health. He was fond of drumming with his fingers on the window pane and of whistling. The tune he whistled was the Marseillaise, but that tune was not known in Eschenbach.

Daniel observed carefully his uncle’s lips, and whistled the tune after him. Jason Philip laughed so that his little belly quivered. Then he remembered that it was a house of mourning, and said: “What a boy!”

But really he did not like the boy. “Our excellent Gottfried does not seem to have trained him carefully,” he remarked once, when Daniel showed some childish recalcitrance. “The boy needs a strong hand.”

Daniel heard these words, and looked scornfully into his uncle’s face.

[6]

Sunday afternoon, when the coffee had been served, the Schimmelweis couple was ready to leave. But Daniel was not to be found. The wife of the inn-keeper called out across the road that she had seen him follow the organist to church. Marian ran to the church to fetch him. After a while she returned, and said to Jason Philip, who was waiting: “He’s crouching in the organ loft, and I can’t get him to move.”

“Can’t get him to move?” Jason Philip started up, and his little red cheeks gleamed with rage. “What does that mean? How can you tolerate that?” And he himself proceeded to the church to get the disobedient child.

As he was mounting the organ-loft he met the organist, who laughed and said: “I suppose you’re looking for Daniel? He’s still staring at the organ, as though my bit of playing had bewitched him.”

“I’ll drive the witch-craft out of him,” Jason Philip snarled.

Daniel was crouching on the floor behind the organ, and did not stir at his uncle’s call. He was so absorbed that the expression of his eyes made his uncle wonder whether the boy was really sane. He grasped Daniel’s shoulder, and spoke in a tone of violent command: “Come home with me this minute!”

Daniel looked up, awoke from his dream, and became aware of the indignant hiss of that alien voice. He tore himself away, and declared insolently that he would stay where he was. That enraged Jason Philip utterly, and he tried again to lay hands on the boy in order to drag him down by force. Daniel leapt back, and cried with a quivering voice: “Don’t touch me!”

Perhaps it was the silence of the nave that had an admonishing and terrifying effect on Jason Philip. Perhaps the extraordinary malignity and passion in the little fellow’s face caused him to desist. At all events he turned around and went without another word.

“The stage-coach is waiting. We’ll be late!” his wife called out to him.

He turned a sinister face to Marian. “You’re bringing up a fine product, I must say. You’ll have your own troubles with him.”

Marian’s eyes fell. She was not unprepared for the reproach. She was herself frightened at the boy’s savage obduracy, his self-centred insistence on his imaginings, his hardness and impatience and contempt of all restraint. It seemed to her as though fate had [7]inspired the soul of her child with something of the foolish and torturing hatred which she had nursed during her pregnancy.

V

Jason Philip Schimmelweis left the dark basement on the square, rented a shop near the bridge by the museum, and set up as a bookseller. Thus his old ambition was realised at last.

He hired a shop-assistant, and Theresa sat all day at the till and learned to keep books.

When she asked her husband what was the source of his capital, he answered that a friend who had great confidence in his ability had advanced him the money at a low rate of interest. He added that he had been pledged not to divulge the name of his friend.

Theresa did not believe him. Her mind was full of dark forebodings. She brooded incessantly and grew to be watchful and suspicious. In secret she tried to ferret out the identity of this nameless friend, but came upon no trace. Now and then she tried to cross-question Jason Philip. On such occasions he would snarl at her malignantly. There was no talk of the return of the money or of the payment of interest on it, nor did the books show an entry of any sort. To rid herself of the anxieties that accompanied her through the years, it would have been necessary for Theresa to believe in helpful fairies. And she did not believe in them.

Nature had given her neither gaiety nor gentleness; under the pressure of this insoluble mystery she became ill-tempered as a wife and moody as a mother.

When there were no customers in the shop she would pick up books quite at random and read in them. Sometimes it was a novel dealing with crime, sometimes a garrulous tract dealing with secret vices. Such things were needed to attract a public that regarded the buying of books as a sinful waste. Without special pleasure, and with a morose sort of thirst for information, she read revelations of court life and the printed betrayals of all kinds of spies, adventurers, and rogues. Quite unconsciously she came to judge the world to which she had no real access according to these books which offered her as truth the issues of sick and pestilential minds.

But as the years went on, and prosperity raised Jason Philip definitely into the merchant class, he abandoned the shadier side of his business. He was a man who knew his age and who unfurled [8]his sails when he was sure of a favourable wind. He entrusted his ship more and more to the ever swelling current of the political parties of the proletariat, and hoped to find his profit where, in a half-hearted way, his convictions lay. He exhibited a rebel’s front to the middle-classes, and held out a hand of unctuous fellowship to the toiler. He knew how to make his way! Many an insignificant shop-keeper had been known to exchange his musty rooms for a villa in the suburbs, to furnish it pretentiously, and to send his sons on trips abroad.

In these days, too, the old imperial city awoke from its romantic slumber. Once the sublime churches, the lovely curves of the bridges, and the quaint gables of the houses had formed an artistic whole. Now they became mere remnants. Castle and walls and mighty towers were ruins of an age of dreams now fortunately past. Iron rails were laid on the streets and rusty chains with strangely shaped lanterns were removed from the opening of narrow streets. Factories and smoke-stacks surrounded the venerable and picturesque city as an iron frame might surround the work of some old master.

“Modern man has got to have light and air,” said Jason Philip Schimmelweis, and clinked the coins in his trousers pocket.

VI

Daniel attended the gymnasium at Ansbach. He was to complete the course of studies that would entitle him to the reduction of his military service to one year and then enter business. This had been agreed upon between Jason Philip and Marian.

The boy’s zeal for study was small. His teachers shook their heads. Their considerable experience of the world had never yet offered them a being so constituted. He listened more eagerly to the lowing of a herd of cows and to the twittering of the sparrows than to the best founded principles of grammatical science. Some of them thought him dull, others malicious. He passed from class to class with difficulty and solely by virtue of a marvellous faculty of guessing. At especially critical moments he was saved through the help and advocacy of the music-master Spindler.

The families who gave the poor student his meals complained of his bad manners. The wife of Judge Hahn forbade him the house on account of his boorish answers. “Beggars must not be choosers,” she had called out after him.

Spindler was a man who asserted quite correctly that he had been [9]meant for better things than wearing himself out in a provincial town. His white locks framed a face ennobled by the melancholy that speaks of lost ideals and illusions.

One summer morning Spindler had risen with the sun and gone for a long walk in the country. When he reached the first barn of the village of Dautenwinden he saw a company of strolling musicians, who had played dance music the evening before and far into the night, and who were now shaking from their hair and garments the straw and chaff amid which they had slept. Above them, under the open gable of the barn, Daniel Nothafft was lying in the straw. With an absorbed and devout expression he was seeking to elicit a melody from a flute which one of the musicians had loaned him.

Spindler stood still and looked up. The musicians laughed, but he did not share in their merriment. A long while passed before the unskilful player of the flute became aware of his teacher. Then he climbed down and tried to steal away with a shy greeting. Spindler stopped him. They walked on together, and Daniel confessed that he had not been able to tear himself away from the musicians since the preceding afternoon. The lad of fourteen was not able to express his feeling; but it seemed to him as though a higher power had forced him to breathe the same air at least with those who made music.

From that day on and for three years Daniel visited Spindler twice a week, and was most thoroughly grounded in counterpoint and harmony. The hours thus spent were both consecrated and winged. Spindler found a peculiar happiness in nourishing a passion whose development struck him as a reward for his many years of toneless isolation. And though the desperateness of this passion, though the rebelliousness and aimless wildness which streamed to him not only from the character of his pupil but also from that pupil’s first attempts at composition, gave him cause for anxiety, yet he hoped always to soothe the boy by pointing to the high and serene models and masters of his art.

And so the time came in which Daniel was to earn his own bread.

VII

Spindler journeyed to Eschenbach to confer with Marian Nothafft.

The woman did not understand him. She felt tempted to laugh.

[10]

Music had meant in her life the droning of a hurdy-gurdy, the singing of a club of men, the marching of a military band. Was her boy to wander from door to door and fiddle for pennies? Spindler seemed a mere madman to her. She pressed her hands together, and looked at him as at a man who was wasting trivial words on a tragic disaster. The music-master realised that his influence was as narrow as his world, and was forced to leave without accomplishing anything.

Marian wrote a letter to Jason Philip Schimmelweis.

One could almost see Jason Philip worrying his reddish brown beard with his nimble fingers and the scornful twinkling of his eyes; one could almost hear the sharp, northern inflection of his speech when his answer to Daniel arrived: “I expected nothing else of you than that it would be your dearest wish to be a wastrel. My dear boy, either you buckle under and make up your mind to become a decent member of society, or I leave you both to your own devices. There is no living in selling herrings and pepper, and so you will kindly imagine for yourself the fate of your mother, especially if a parasite like yourself clings to her.”

Daniel tore up the letter into innumerable bits and let them flutter out into the wind. His mother wept.

Then he went out into the forest, wandered about till nightfall, and slept in the hollow of a tree.

VIII

One might go on and tell the tale of continued rebellion, of angry words on both sides, of pleas and complaints and fruitless arguments, of bitter controversy and yet bitterer silence.

Daniel fled and returned and let the slothful days glide by, stormed about in the vicinity, and lay in the high grass beside the pools or opened his window at night, cursing the silence and envying the clouds their speed.

His mother followed him when he went to his little room and pressed her ear to the door, and then entered and saw the candle still lit, and went to his bed and was frightened at his gleaming eyes which grew sombre at her approach. Full of the memories of her early cares and fears for him, and thinking that the darkness and the sight of her weakness would prevail upon him, she pleaded and begged once more. And he looked up at her and something broke in his soul, and he promised to do as she demanded.

So we see him next at the house of the leather merchant Hamecher [11]in Ansbach. He sits on a bale of leather in the long, dismal passage way or on the cellar steps or in the store room, and dreams and dreams and dreams. And gradually the worthy Hamecher’s indulgent surprise turned to blank astonishment and then to indignation, and at the end of six months he showed the useless fellow the door.

Once more Jason Philip condescended to grant his favour, and chose a new scene and new people for his nephew, if only to remove him from Spindler’s baneful influence. At the mention of the city of Bayreuth no one became aware of Daniel’s fiery ecstasy, for they had never heard of the name of Richard Wagner but always of the name of the wine merchant Maier. And so he came to Bayreuth, the Jerusalem of his yearning, and forced himself to an appearance of industry in order to remain in that spot where sun and air and earth and the very beasts and stones and refuse breathe that music of which Spindler had said that he himself had a profound presentiment of its nature but was too old to grasp and love it wholly.

Daniel did his best to make himself useful. But in spite of himself he scrawled music notes on the invoices, roared strange melodies in lonely vaults, and let the contents of a whole keg of wine leak out, because in front of him, on the floor, lay the score of the English Suites.

At a rehearsal he slipped into the Festival Playhouse, but was put out by a zealous watchman, and on this occasion made the acquaintance of Andreas Döderlein, who was a professor at the Nuremberg conservatory and a tireless apostle of the redeemer. Döderlein seemed not disinclined to understand and to help, and expressed a real delight at the deep, original enthusiasm and burning devotion of his protégé. And Daniel, intoxicated by a rather vague and not at all binding promise of a scholarship at the conservatory, fled from Bayreuth by night, made his way on foot back to Eschenbach, threw himself at his mother’s feet, and almost writhed there before her and begged and implored her, and in words almost wild sought to prevail on her to attempt to change the mind of Jason Philip. He tried to explain to her that his life and happiness, his very blood and heart were dedicated to this one thing. But she, who was once kindly, was now hard—hard as stone, cold as ice. She understood nothing, felt nothing, believed nothing, saw only the frightfulness, as she called it, of his incurable aberration.

All these matters might have been related at length. But they are as inevitable in their character and sequence as the sparks and [12]smoke that follow upon fire. They are quite determinable; they have often happened, and have always had the same final effect.

What clung to Marian’s soul was an immemorial prejudice against a gipsy’s life and a stroller’s fate. Her ancestors and her husband’s had always earned their livelihood in the honest ways of a trade. She could not see what the free tuition at Döderlein’s conservatory would avail Daniel, since he had nothing wherewithal to sustain life. He told her that Spindler had taught him how to play on the piano, that he would perfect his skill and so earn his sustenance. She shook her head. Then he spoke to her of the greatness of art, of the ecstasy which an artist could communicate and the immortality he might win, and that perhaps it would be granted him to create something unique and incomparable. But these words she thought mad and pretentious delusions, and smiled contemptuously. And at that his soul turned away from her, and she seemed a mother to him no more.

When Jason Philip Schimmelweis learned what was afoot, he would not let the troublesome journey deter him, but appeared in Marian’s shop like an avenging angel. Daniel feared him no longer, since he had given up hoping for anything from him. He laughed to himself at the sight of the stubby, short-necked man in his rage. Gleams of mockery and of cunning still played over the red cheeks of Jason Philip, for he had a very high opinion of himself, and did not think the windy follies of a boy of nineteen worthy of the whole weight of his personality.

While he talked his little eyes sparkled, and his red, little tongue pushed away the recalcitrant hairs of his moustache from his voluble lips. Daniel stood by the door, leaning against the post, his arms folded across his chest, and regarded now his mother, who, dumb and suddenly old, sat in a corner of the sofa, now the oil portrait of his father on the opposite wall. A friend of Gottfried Nothafft’s youth, a painter who had been long lost and forgotten like his other works, had once painted it. It showed a man of serious bearing, and brought to mind the princely guildsman of the Middle Ages. Seeing the picture at that moment enlightened Daniel as to the ancestral strain that had brought him to this mood and to this hour.

And turning now once more to Jason Philip’s face, he thought he perceived in it the restlessness of an evil conscience. It seemed to him that this man was not acting from conviction but from an antecedent determination. It seemed to him further that he was faced, not merely by this one man and his rage and its accidental [13]causes, but by a whole world in arms that was pledged to enmity against him. He had no inclination now to await the end of Jason Philip’s oratorical efforts, and left the room.

Jason Philip grew pale. “Don’t let us deceive ourselves, Marian,” he said. “You have nursed a viper on your bosom.”

Daniel stood by the Wolfram fountain in the square, and let the purple of the setting sun shine upon him. Round about him the stones and the beams of the ancient houses glowed, and the maids who came with pails to fetch water at the fountain gazed with astonishment into the brimming radiance of the sky. At this hour his native town grew very dear to Daniel. When Jason Philip entered the square, at the corner of which the stage-coach was waiting, he did his best not to be seen by Daniel and avoided him in a wide semi-circle. But Daniel turned around and fastened his eyes on the man, who strode rapidly and gazed stubbornly aside.

This thing too has happened before and will happen again. Nor is it amazing that the fugitive should turn and inspire terror in his pursuer.

IX

Daniel saw that he could not stay to be a burden to his mother with her small resources. She was poor and dependent on the judgment of a tyrannical kinsman. Mastering his passionate impulses, he forced himself to cool reflection and made a plan. He would have to work and earn so much money that after a year or more he would be able to go to Andreas Döderlein and remind him of his magnanimous offer. So he studied the advertisements in the papers and wrote letters of application. A printer in Mannheim wanted an assistant correspondent. Since he agreed to take the small wage offered, he was summoned to that city. Marian gave him his railway fare.

He endured the torment for three months. Then it grew unbearable. For seven months he slaved for an architect in Stuttgart, next four months for the municipal bath in Baden-Baden, finally for six weeks in a cigarette factory in Kaiserslautern.

He lived like a dog. In terror of having to spend money, he avoided all human intercourse. He was unspeakably lonely. Hunger and self-denial made him as lean as a rope. His cheeks grew hollow, his limbs trembled in their sockets. He patched his own clothes, and to save his shoes hammered curved bits of iron [14]to the heels and toes. His aim sustained him; Andreas Döderlein beckoned in the distance.

Every night he counted the sum he had saved so far. And when at last, after sixteen months of self-denial, he had a fortune of two hundred marks, he thought he could risk the fateful step. As he reckoned and according to his present standard of life, he thought that this money would last him five months. Within that period new sources might open. He had come to know many people and had experienced many circumstances, but in reality he had known no one and experienced nothing, for he had stood in the world like a lantern with a covered light. With an enormous expenditure of energy he had restrained his mind from its native activity. He had throttled it for the sake of its future. Hence his whole soul had now the temperature of a blast furnace.

On his trip his fare was the accustomed one of dry bread and cheese. He had made a package of his few books and his music, and had despatched it in care of the railway station in Nuremberg. It was early spring. In fair weather he slept in the open. When it rained he took refuge in barns. A little bundle was his pillow and his ragged top-coat shielded him from frost. Not rarely farmers received him in kindly fashion and gave him a meal. Now and then a tramping apprentice joined him. But his silence did not invite companionship.

Once in the neighbourhood of Kitzingen he came upon a high fenced park. Under a maple tree in the park sat a young girl in a white dress reading a book. A voice called: “Sylvia!” Thereupon the girl arose, and with unforgettable grace of movement walked deeper into the garden.

And Daniel thought: Sylvia! A sound as though from a better world. He shuddered. Was it to be his lot to stand without a gate of life that gave everything to the eyes and nothing to the hands?

X

He sought out Andreas Döderlein at once. He was told that the professor was not in town. Two weeks later he stood once more before the old house. He was told that the professor could not be seen to-day. He was discouraged. But out of loyalty to his cause he returned at the end of three days and was received.

He entered an overheated room. The professor was sitting in an arm chair. On his knees was his little, eight-year-old daughter; [15]in his right arm he held a large doll. The white tiles of the stove were adorned with pictured scenes from the Nibelungen legend; table and chairs were littered with music scores; the windows had leaded panes; in one corner there was a mass of artfully grouped objects—peacocks’ feathers, gay-coloured silks, Chinese fans. This combination was known as a Makart bouquet, and represented the taste of the period.

Döderlein put the little girl down and gave her her doll. Then he drew himself up to the fulness of his gigantic stature, a process that gave him obvious pleasure. His neck was so fat that his chin seemed to rest on a gelatinous mass.

He seemed not to recall Daniel. Cues had to be given him to distinguish this among his crowded memories. He snapped his fingers. It was a sign that his mind had reached the desired place. “Ah, yes, yes, yes! To be sure, to be sure, my dear young man! But what do you suppose? Just now when all available space is as crowded as a street strewn with crumbs is crowded with sparrows. We might take the matter up again in autumn. Yes, in autumn something might be done.”

A pause, during which the great man gave inarticulate sounds of profound regret. And was the young man, after all, so sure of a genuine talent? Had he considered that art was becoming more and more an idling place for the immature and the shipwrecked? It was so difficult to tell the sheep from the goats. And finally, granting talent, how was the young man equipped in the matter of moral energy? There, indisputably, the core of the problem was to be sought. Or didn’t he, perhaps, think so?

As through a fog Daniel observed that the little girl had approached him and looked him over with a curiously cold and testing glance. Almost he was impelled to stretch out his hand and cover the eyes of the child, whose manner was uncanny to him through some ghostly presentiment.

“I’m truly sorry that I can’t give you a more encouraging outlook.” Andreas Döderlein’s voice was oily, and showed a conscious delight in its own sound. “But as I said, there’s nothing to be done until autumn. Suppose you leave me your address. Put it down on this slip. No? Well, quite as you wish. Good-bye, young man, good-bye.”

Döderlein accompanied him to the door. Then he returned to his daughter, took her on his knee, picked up the doll, and said: “Human beings, my dear Dorothea, are a wretched set. If I were to compare them to sparrows on the road, I should be doing the [16]sparrows but little honour. Heavens and earth! Wouldn’t even write his name on a slip of paper. Felt hurt! Well, well, well. What funny creatures men are. Wouldn’t leave his name. Well, well.”

He hummed the Walhalla motif, and Dorothea, bending over her doll, coquettishly kissed the waxen face.

Daniel, standing in front of the house, bit his lips like a man in a fever who does not want his teeth to rattle. Why, the depth of his soul asked him, why did you sit in their counting-houses and waste their time? Why did you crucify your body and bind my wings? Why were you deaf to me and desirous of gathering fruits where there are only stones? Why did you, like a coward, flee from your fate to their offices and ware-houses and iron safes and all their doleful business? For the sake of this hour? Poor fool!

And he answered: “Never again, my soul, never again.”

XI

In the beginning Marian had received a letter from Daniel every now and then. These letters became rarer. During the second year he wrote only once—a few lines at Christmas.

At the time when he was leaving his last place of employment he wrote her on a postcard that he was changing his residence again. But he did not tell her that he was going to Nuremberg. So spring passed and summer. Then her soul, which was wavering between fear and hope, was rudely jolted out of its dim state by a letter from Jason Philip.

He wrote that Daniel was loafing about in Nuremberg. Quite by accident he had met him a few days before near the fair booths on Schütt Island. His appearance was indescribable. He had tried to question him, but Daniel had disappeared. What had brought him to the city he, Jason Philip, could not see. But he was willing to wager that at the bottom of it was some shady trick, for the fellow had not looked like one who earns an honest living. So he proposed to Marian that she should come to Nuremberg and help in a raid on the vagabond, in order to prevent the unblemished name he bore from being permanently disgraced before it was too late. As a contribution to her travelling expenses he enclosed five marks in stamps.

Marian had received the letter at noon. She had at once locked up her house and shop. At two o’clock she had reached the station [17]at Ansbach; at four she arrived in Nuremberg. Carrying her hand-bag, she asked her way to Plobenhof Street at every corner.

Theresa sat at the cashier’s desk. Her brown hair on her square peasant’s skull was smoothly combed. Zwanziger, the freckled shop-assistant, was busy unpacking books. Theresa greeted her sister with apparent friendliness, but she did not leave her place. She stretched out her hand across the ink-stand, and observed Marian’s shabby appearance—the worn shawl, the old-fashioned little cloth bonnet with its black velvet ribbands meeting in a bow under the chin.

“Go upstairs for a bit,” she said, “and let the children entertain you. Rieke will bring up your bag.”

“Where is your husband?” asked Marian.

“At an electors’ meeting,” Theresa answered morosely. “They couldn’t meet properly, according to him, if he isn’t there.”

At that moment a man in a workingman’s blouse entered the shop and began to talk to Theresa urgently in a soft but excited voice. “I bought the set of books and they’re my property,” said the man. “Suppose I did skip a payment. That’s no reason to lose my property. I call that sharp practice, Frau Schimmelweis, that’s what I call it.”

“What did Herr Wachsmuth buy of us?” Theresa turned to the shop-assistant.

“Schlosser’s ‘History of the World,’” was the prompt answer.

“Then you’d better read your contract,” Theresa said to the workingman. “The terms are all fixed there.”

“That’s sharp practice, Frau Schimmelweis, sharp practice,” the man repeated, as though this phrase summed up all he could express in the way of withering condemnation. “A fellow like me wants to get on and wants to learn something. All right. So I think I’ll buy me a book and get a step ahead in knowledge. So where do I go? To a party member, to Comrade Schimmelweis, thinking natural-like I’m safe in his hands. I pay sixty marks—hard earned money—for a history of the world, and manage to squeeze the payments out o’ my wages, and then, all of a sudden, when half the price is paid, I’m to have my property taken from me without so much as a by your leave just because I’m two payments in arrears.”

“Read your contract,” said Theresa. “Every point is stipulated.”

“No wonder people get rich,” the man went on. His voice grew louder and louder, and he glanced angrily at Jason Philip, who at [18]that moment rushed into the shop with his hat crushed and his trousers sprinkled with mud. “No wonder that people can buy houses and speculate in real estate. Yes, Schimmelweis, I call such things sharp practice, and I don’t give a damn for your contract. Everybody knows by this time what kind of business is done here—more like a man-trap—and that these here instalments are just a scheme to squeeze the workingman dry. First you talk to him about education, and then you suck his blood. It’s hell!”

“Pull yourself together, Wachsmuth!” Jason Philip cried sternly.

Wachsmuth picked up his cap, and slammed the shopdoor behind him.

Marian Nothafft’s eyes passed mechanically over the titles of a row of fiercely red pamphlets spread out on a table. She read: “The Battle that Decides,” “Modern Slaveholders,” “The Rights of the Poor,” “Christianity and Capitalism,” “The Crimes of the Bourgeoisie.” Although these catch-words meant nothing to her, she felt in her heart once more her old, long forgotten hatred against machines.

XII

“Fetch me a sandwich, Theresa,” Jason Philip commanded, “I’m hungry as a wolf.”

“Didn’t you eat anything at the inn?” Theresa asked suspiciously.

“I was at no such place.” Jason Philip’s eyes gleamed, and he shook his head like a lion.

So Theresa went to fetch his sandwich. It was queer to observe how much distrust and contradiction she was able to express through the sloth of her movements. But her daughter Philippina was already hurrying down the stairs with the sandwich.

At this moment Jason Philip became aware of his sister-in-law. “Ah, there you are, you shrinking flower,” he said lightly, and held out his pudgy hand. “Theresa will put you up in the little room under the store-room. You have a pleasant view of the river there.”

Theresa handed him the bread. He sniffed at it, and frowned because it wasn’t thickly enough buttered. But he had not the courage to complain. He bit into it, and, with full cheeks, turned once more to Marian.

“Well, that son of yours has disappeared again. A nice situation. Shouldn’t wonder if he ended in the penitentiary. The best thing would be to ship him off to America; but it isn’t clear to me [19]how we’re to get hold of him at all. It was really premature to ask you to come.”

“If only I knew what he’s living on,” Marian whispered, with repressed anguish.

Jason Philip indulged with broad psychical comfort in an anecdote: “I was reading the other day how a giraffe escaped from the Zoo. You’ve heard of giraffes. They are long-necked quadrupeds, very stupid and stubborn. The silly beast had run off into the woods, and the people didn’t know how to capture it. Then the keeper hung the stable-lantern over his chest and a bundle of hay on his back, and at nightfall went into the woods. Scarcely had the giraffe noticed the gleam of the lantern when it came up in its curiosity. At once the man swung around. It smelled the hay, nibbled, and began to feed. Slowly the man went on, and the beast went on nibbling and feeding. First thing you know it was back in its cage. Now don’t you think that when hunger begins to torment him, your Daniel could be tamed with a bit of hay too? It’s worth your thinking about.”

Jason Philip laughed merrily, and Zwanziger grinned. His boss was a source of humour. At night, when he sat in his favourite tap-rooms over his beer, he would entertain his boon companions with the witticisms of Schimmelweis, and always won their applause.

A lean old man with kid gloves and a top-hat entered the shop. It was growing dark, and he had peered carefully about before entering. He hurried up to Jason Philip, and said in a cracked falsetto: “How about the new publications? Anything very fine?” He rubbed his hands, and stared stupidly from under his thin, reddish lids. It was Count Schlemm-Nottheim, a cousin of the Baron von Auffenberg, the leader of the liberal party.

“I’m entirely at your service, sir,” said Jason Philip, holding himself as rigidly as a sergeant who is being addressed by a captain.

He led the count to a corner of the shop, and opened a heavy oaken chest. This chest contained the pornographic publications forbidden by the state. They were sold quite secretly and only to very reliable persons.

Jason Philip whispered, and the old count turned over the heap of books with avid fingers.

XIII

Marian climbed up the steep, dark stairs, and rang the upstairs bell. She had to tell the maid who she was and even mention her [20]name to the children. The latter laughed at her stiff, rural courtesy. Philippina, who was twelve, acted arrogantly and swung her hips when she walked. All three had their mother’s square head and a cheesy complexion.

The maid brought up the bag. Then Theresa came too and helped her sister unpack. With her acrid, unfeeling voice she asked many questions, but without waiting for an answer told the tale of marriage and births and deaths that had taken place in the city. She avoided Marian’s eyes, because she was silently considering how long her sister’s visit would last and to what expense it would put her.

She did not mention Daniel, and her silence condemned him more completely than her husband’s acrimonious speeches. She held firmly an almost religious doctrine of the complete obedience which children owe their parents, and doubted Marian’s power to punish properly a breach of this sacred law.

When Marian was left alone, she sat down by the window of the little room, and gazed sadly down at the river. Without any curl of waves the yellow water glided by and washed the walls of the houses on the other bank. She had a view of the Museum Bridge and another bridge, and the crowding of people on the bridges disquieted her.

She walked through the streets, and stopped at the head of the Museum Bridge. She thought that every human being who lived in the town must pass by here sooner or later. Her attentive glance searched all faces, and where one escaped, she followed the figure as it melted into the dark. But as it grew later the people were fewer and fewer.

At night she would lie awake, and listen to the dull echo of the feet of the last passerby. Next day from morning to twilight she would wander up and down the streets. What she saw weighed on her heart. The city people seemed to her like dumb animals, tormented and angry. The narrow streets stopped her breath; the hubbub deadened her senses.

But she was never tired of seeking.

On the fifth day she did not come home until ten o’clock. Theresa, who had gone to bed, sent her a plate of lentil soup. While she was avidly eating the soup she heard steps in the hall and a knock at the door. Jason Philip entered. “Come along at once,” was all he said. But she understood. With trembling fingers she threw a shawl across her shoulders, since the October nights were growing cool, and followed him in silence.

[21]

They went up hill to Adler Street, turned into it and then into a narrow, dark little alley at the right. A lantern hung above a door and on a green glass pane were inscribed the words: “The Vale of Tears.” A greenish light suffused the stone stairs that led to the cellar, the kegs and the desolate room filled with chairs and benches. A sourish smell of wine arose from the place.

Beside the entrance there was a barred window. Beside it Jason Philip stopped, and beckoned Marian to join him.

At the long tables below them sat a queer crowd. They were young men, but such as one never finds in ordinary houses and only very rarely in the streets. Want seemed to have driven them to huddle here, and the night to have lured them from their hiding places—shipwrecked creatures they seemed who had fled to a cavern on some deserted shore. They had absurdly gay cravats and sad, pallid faces, and the greenish light made them look altogether like corpses. It was long since a barber had touched their hair or a tailor their garb.

A little aside from these sat two old fellows, habitual topers, not in the best circumstances themselves, yet rather astonished at this dreary Stygian crew. For they themselves at least received their weekly wage of a Saturday night, while those others had obviously for years not worked at all.

But in a dusky corner sat one at a piano and struck the keys with a strange might. He had no score before him, but played from memory. The instrument moaned; the strings hummed pitifully; the pedals creaked; but the man who played was so bewitched by his music that he cared little for the inadequacy of its communication. Wild as the tumult of the playing sounded, the shrill and raging chords, the wild clamour of the treble, the driven triplets and seething tremolos of the bass, yet the deep emotion of the player, the ecstasy and world-estranged madness in which he was, lent the scene a melancholy and a solemnity which would have had its effect even without the greenish cellar and the cavernous pallor of the listeners.

Marian had at once recognised the pianist as Daniel. She had to hold fast to the bars of the window and lean her knees against the wainscoting. It was not for nothing that Jason Philip was known as a thorough wag. The comparison to Daniel in the lion’s den was too much for him. He whispered the words to Marian. But since the window was open and the music had first risen and then, at this moment, paused, his words penetrated to the people below, and several heads turned toward him. Marian was thoughtless. [22]She believed that the piece had ended. Faintly and fearfully she cried: “Daniel!”

Daniel leaped up, stared at her, saw Jason Philip’s mocking face, hastened to the door, the steps, and was beside them.

He stood in the doorway, and his lips began to form words. The unhappy boy, she thought, and it seemed to her as though power would be given her to press back to his heart the words she trembled to hear.

It was in vain. The words were uttered. He did not wish to see his mother any more; he was content to live alone and for himself and to be free. He needed no one. He needed only to be free.

Jason Philip hurled a glance of contempt at the blasphemous wretch, and drew Marian away with him. To the very corner of the alley they were accompanied by the excited voices of the people in the Vale of Tears.

Next morning Marian returned to Eschenbach.

[23]FOES, BROTHERS, A FRIEND AND A MASK

I

Daniel had rented a room of the brush-maker Hadebusch and his wife, who lived on Jacob’s Square behind the church.

It was March, and a sudden cold had set in; and Frau Hadebusch had a superstitious fear of coal, which she characterised as Devil’s dung. At the back of the yard was the wood pile, and logs were brought in with which to feed the oven fires. But wood was dear, and had Daniel fed his little iron stove in the garret with such costly food, his monthly bill would have reached a fabulous height. He paid seven marks a month for his room and counted every penny so as not to shorten the period of his liberty by any needless expenditure.

So he sat freezing over his books and scores until the first warmth of spring stole in through the windows. The books he borrowed from the library at the King’s Gate, and paid six pfennigs a volume. Achim von Arnim and Jean Paul were his guides in those days: the one adorned the world of the senses for him, the other that of the soul.

On the police department’s identification blank Daniel had called himself a musician. Frau Hadebusch brought the paper into her living room, which, like all the rooms of the house, seemed built for dwarfs and reeked of limewater and lye. It was at the day’s end, and in the room were assembled Herr Francke and Herr Benjamin Dorn, who lodged on the second floor, and Frau Hadebusch’s son, who was weak-minded and crouched grinning beside the stove.

Herr Francke was a town traveller for a cigar house, and was regarded as a good deal of a Don Juan by the female servants of the neighbourhood. Benjamin Dorn was a clerk in the Prudentia Life Insurance Company, belonged to a Methodist congregation, and was respected by all the respectable on account of his Christian walk and conversation.

These gentlemen examined the document thoroughly and with frowns. Herr Francke gave it as his opinion that a musician who never made music could scarcely be regarded as one.

[24]

“He’s probably pawned his bass violin or bugle or whatever he was taught,” he said contemptuously; “perhaps he can only beat a drum. Well, I can do that too if I have one.”

“Yes, you’ve got to have a drum to be a drummer,” Benjamin Dorn remarked. “The question, however, is whether such a calling is in harmony with the principles of Christian modesty.” He laid his finger on his nose, and added: “It is a question which, with all proper humility, all proper humility, you understand, I would answer in the negative.”

“He hasn’t any relatives and no acquaintances at all,” Frau Hadebusch wailed, and her voice sounded like the scraping of carrots on a grater; “and no employment and no prospects and no boots or clothes but what he’s got on. In all my life I haven’t had no such lodger.”

The blank fluttered to the floor, whence the weak-minded Hadebusch Jr. picked it up, rolled it in the shape of a bag, and applied that bag, trumpet-like, to his lips, a procedure which caused the document in question to be gradually soaked through and thus withdrawn from its official uses. Frau Hadebusch was too little concerned over the police regulations to take further thought of her duties as the keeper of a lodging house.

Herr Francke drew from his pocket a pack of greasy cards and began to shuffle them. Frau Hadebusch giggled and it sounded like a witch rustling in the fire. The Methodist conquered his pious scruples, and placed his pfennigs on the table; the town-traveller turned up his sleeves as though he were about to wring a hen’s neck.

Before very long there arose a dissonant controversy, since Herr Francke’s relations with the goddess of fortune were strained and violent. The old brush-maker poked his head in at the door and cursed; the weak-minded boy blew dreamily on his paper trumpet; and the company that had been so peacefully at one separated in violence and rage.

II

Daniel wandered up to the castle, along the walls, over the bridges and planks.

It was his youth that caused him so to love the night that he forgot all men and seemed to himself to be alone on earth. It was his youth that delivered him up to things with such passion that [25]he was able to weave the ghostly flowers of melodies about all that is visible—melodies that were so delicate, so eloquent, and so winged that no pen could ever record them. They vanished and died whenever he sought to capture them.

But it was also his youth that fired his eyes with hatred when he saw the comfort of lit windows, and filled his heart with bitterness against the satisfied, the indifferent, the strangers, the eternal strangers who had no consciousness of him.

He was so small and so great: small in the eyes of the world, great in his own estimation. When the tones burst from him like sparks from an anvil, he was a god. When he stood in the dark court behind the City Theatre waiting for the final chorus of “Fidelio” to penetrate the wall and reach his grateful ears, he was an outcast. Fountains of music rustled all about him. He looked into the eyes of the children and there was melody; he gazed up at the stars and there was harmony. He finally came to the point where there was no limit. His day was a waste place, his brain a parched field in the rain, his thoughts were birds of passage, his dreams a super-life.

He lived on bread and fruit, treating himself only every third day to a warm meal in the inn at the sign of the White Tower. There he would sit and listen at times, unobserved, to the quite remarkable conversation of some young fellows. This awakened in him a longing for intercourse with congenial companions. But when the brethren of the Vale of Tears finally took him into their circle, he was like a Robinson Crusoe or a Selkirk who had been abducted from his island.

III

Benjamin Dorn was a compassionate individual. The desire to save a lost soul filled him with the courage to pay Daniel Nothafft a visit. He hobbled up the creaky steps with his club-foot, and knocked timidly at the door.

“Can I be of service to you, Sir, in a Christian way?” he asked, after he had blown his nose.

Daniel looked at him in amazement.

“You know, I could help you in an unselfish, Christian way, to get a position. There is a great deal of work to be done down at the Prudentia. If I were to recommend you to Herr Zittel it certainly would not be in vain. Herr Zittel is head of the [26]clerical department. I also stand in with Herr Diruf, and he is general agent. I come in contact nearly every day with Inspector Jordan, and Herr Jordan is a man of exceptional culture. His daughter Gertrude attended my Sunday-school class. She has received and still enjoys divine favour. If you were to entrust your case to me, you would be entering upon a righteous, wholesome career. I am always looking out for some one. To tell the truth, and not wishing to appear immodest, I was born that way.”

The man looked like a patchwork of qualmishness, tribulation, and unctuous piety, and his coat collar was badly frayed.

“That’s all right,” replied Daniel; “don’t you see that I am getting along quite well?”

The pious life-insurance agent sighed and brushed a drop from the tip of his nose with the back of his hand. “My dear Sir,” said he, “take to heart the words of Solomon: Pride goeth before a fall, but the humble in spirit obtain honour.”

“Yes, I’ll take that to heart,” said Daniel drily, and bent still lower over the score on which he was working.

Benjamin Dorn sighed again, and limped out of the room. With his thumbs pointing straight to high heaven above, he said to Frau Hadebusch: “You know, Frau Hadebusch, I simply can’t help it. I must lighten my heart in a Christian way. What do you think?”

“Good heavens, what’s he doing? What’s he up to now?” sighed the old lady, as she shoved her broom under her arm.

“As true as I stand here, the table is all covered with papers, and the papers are all covered with some kind of mysterious signs.”

Alarmed at the very thought of having a lodger up in the attic who was practising black magic, Frau Hadebusch sent her husband down to the district policeman. This enlightened official declared that the brush-maker was a gossip. Vexed at this unanticipated description of himself, the brush-maker went straightway to the inn at the sign of the Horse and got drunk, so drunk that Benjamin Dorn had to take him home. It was a beautiful moonlit night.

IV

Not far from Hadebusch’s was a little café known as The Paradise. Everything in it was diminutive, the proprietor, the waitress, the tables, the chairs and the portions. There the brethren from [27]the Vale of Tears assembled to drag the gods down into the dust and destroy the universe in general.

Daniel wended his way thither. He knew the liliputian room and the starved faces. He was personally acquainted with the painter who never painted, the writer who never wrote, the student who never studied, and the inventor who never invented anything. He knew all about the sculptor who squandered such talents as he may have had in tinkering with plaster casts, the actor who had been on a leave of absence for years, and the half dozen mendicant Philistines who came here day after day to have a good time in their own repelling fashion. He knew the young Baron von Auffenberg who had broken with his family for reasons that were clear to no one but himself. He knew Herr Carovius, who invariably played the rôle of the observer, and who sat there in a sort of mysterious fashion, smiling to himself a smile of languishing irony, and stroking his hand over his long hair, which was cut straight across at the back of his neck.

He knew, ah, he knew by heart, the grease spots on the walls that had been rubbed in by the heads of the habitués, the indelible splotches on the tables, the hartshorn buttons on the proprietor’s vest, and the smoke-coloured curtains draped about the tiny windows. The loud, boisterous talking, the daily repetition of the same hackneyed remarks, the anarchistic swashbuckling of the painter whom his comrades had dubbed Kropotkin—all of these were familiar stories to him. He knew the philosophic cynicism of the student who felt that he was the Socrates of the nineteenth century, and who looked back on twenty-five wasted semesters as on so many battles fought and won.

The most interesting personage was Herr Carovius. He was a well-read man. That he knew a great deal about music was plain from many of his chance remarks. He was a brother-in-law of Andreas Döderlein, though he seemed to take anything but pride in the relationship. If any one mentioned Döderlein’s name in his presence, he screwed up his face, and began to shuffle about uneasily on his chair. He was an unfathomable, impenetrable personality. Even if his years—he was forty-five—had not won for him a measure of esteem, the malicious and mordant scorn he heaped on his fellow-men would have done so. People said he had a good deal of money. If this was brought to his attention, he employed the most ghastly oaths in asserting his poverty. But since he had neither calling nor profession and spent his days in unqualified idleness, it was apparent that his assertions on this point were [28]wholly unfounded, and this despite the virility of his unconventional language.

“Say, tell me, who is that lanky quack there?” asked Herr Carovius, pointing to Daniel and looking at Schwalbe the sculptor. He had known Daniel for a long while, but every now and then it gave him a peculiar kind of pleasure to play the rôle of the newcomer.

The sculptor looked at him indignantly.

“That is a man who still has faith in himself,” he remarked rather morosely. “He is a man who has bathed in the dragon blood of illusions, and has become as invulnerable as Young Siegfried. He is convinced that the people who sleep in the houses around this part of town dream of his future greatness, and have already placed an order with the green-grocer for his laurel wreath. He has not the faintest idea that the only thing that is sacred to them is their midday meal, that they are ready to drink their beer at the first stroke of the gong, and to yawn when the light appears on Mount Sinai. He is completely taken up with himself; he is sufficient unto himself; and he gathers honey. The bee will have its honey, and if it is unable to get it from the flowers, it buzzes about the dung heap. As is evidently the case here. Prosit Nothafft,” he said in conclusion, and lifted his glass to Daniel.

Herr Carovius smiled in his usual languishing fashion. “Nothafft,” he bleated, “Nothafft, Nothafft, that is a fine name, but not exactly one that is predestined to a niche in Walhalla. It strikes me as being rather more appropriate for the sign of a tailor. Good Lord! The bones the young people gnaw at to-day were covered with meat in my time.”

And then, clasping his glasses a bit firmer onto his nose, he riveted his blinking, squinting eyes on the door. Eberhard von Auffenberg, elegant, slender, and disgruntled, entered to find life where others were throwing it away.

It was far into the night when the brethren went home. As they passed along through the streets they bellowed their nocturnal serenades at the windows of the otherwise peaceful houses.

As the hilarious laughter and vocal rowdyism reached Daniel’s ear, he detected from out of the hubbub a gentle voice in E-flat minor, accompanied by the inexorable eighth-notes sung with impressive vigour. Then the voice died away in a solemn E-flat major chord, and everything was as if sunk in the bottom of the sea.

[29]

V

Toward the end of the summer, Philippina, Jason Philip’s daughter, shot out the eye of her seven-year-old brother with a so-called bean-shooter.

The children were playing in the yard. Willibald, the older boy, wanted the shooter. Philippina, who had not the slightest sense of humour, snatched it from his hands, placed the stone on the elastic band and let it fly with all her might. Little Marcus ran in front of it. It was all over in a jiffy. A heart-rending scream caused the frightened mother to leave the shop and run out into the yard. She found the child lying on the ground convulsed with pain. While Theresa carried the boy into the house, Jason Philip ran for the doctor. But it was too late; the eye was lost.

Philippina hid. After considerable search her father found her under the cellar steps. He beat her so mercilessly that the neighbours had to come up and take him away.

Little Marcus was Theresa’s favourite child. She could not get over the accident. The obsession that had slumbered in her soul for years now became more persistent than ever: she began to brood over guilt in general and this case in particular.

At times she would get up in the night, light a candle, and walk about the house in her stocking feet. She would look behind the stove and under the table, and then crouch down with her ear against the maid’s door. She would examine the mouse-trap and if a mouse had been caught in it, she could not, try as she might, completely detach her own unrest from the mental disturbance of the little beast.

One day Jason Philip was stopped on the street by a well-known cabinet-maker and asked whether he had any old furniture for sale. Jason Philip replied that he was not at all familiar with the contents of the attic and sent him to Theresa. Theresa recalled that there was an old desk up in the attic that had been standing there for years. She suggested that they might be willing to dispose of this for a few taler, and accompanied the man to the room where the worn-out furniture was stored.

She opened the little wooden door. The cabinet-maker caught sight at once of the desk. It had only three legs and was just about ready to fall to pieces. “I can’t make you an offer for that,” said the cabinet-maker, and began to rap on it here and [30]there, somewhat as a physician might sound a corpse. “The most I can offer you is twelve groschen.”

They haggled for a while, and finally agreed on sixteen. The man left at once, having promised to send one of his men up in the afternoon to get the desk. Theresa was already standing on the steps, when it occurred to her that it might be well to go through the drawers before letting the thing get out of the house: there might be some old documents in them. She went back up in the attic.

In the dust of one of the drawers she found, sure enough, a bundle of papers, and among them the receipt which Gottfried Nothafft had sent back to Jason Philip ten years before. She read in the indistinct light the confidential words of the deceased. She saw that Jason Philip had received three thousand taler.

After she had read this, she crumpled up the paper. Then she put it into her apron pocket and screamed out: “Be gone, Gottfried, be gone!”

She went down stairs into the kitchen. There she took her place by the table and stirred a mixture of flour and eggs, as completely absent-minded as it is possible for one to become who spends her time in that part of the house. Rieke, the maid, became so alarmed at her behaviour that she made the sign of the cross.

VI

When the midday meal was over, the children left the table and prepared to go to school. Jason Philip lighted a cigar, and took the newspaper from his pocket.

“Did you find anything for the second-hand furniture man?” he asked, as he puffed away.

“I found something for him and something for myself,” she said.

“What do you mean? You found something for yourself?”

“What do I mean? I mean just what I said. I have always known that there was something crooked about that money.”

“What money are you talking about? Listen, don’t speak to me in riddles! When you have anything to say to me, say it. Do you understand?”

“I mean Gottfried Nothafft’s money, Jason Philip,” said Theresa, almost in a whisper.

Jason Philip bent over the table. “Then you have at last found the old receipt, have you?” he asked with wide-opened eyes. [31]“Ahem! You have found the receipt that I’ve been looking for for years ...?”

Theresa nodded. She took out a hairpin, and stuck it in a crust of bread. Jason Philip got up, clasped his hands behind his back, and began to walk back and forth. Just then Rieke came in and began to clear off the table. She went about her business in a slow but noisy fashion. She made things rattle, even if she could not make them hum. When she was through, Jason Philip, his hands pressed to his hips, his elbows protruding, planted himself before Theresa.

“I suppose you think I am going to let you browbeat me,” he began. “Well, my dear woman, you’re mistaken. Listen! Are you angry at me because I have created for you and your children a dignified existence? Do you take it amiss of me for having kept your sister from going to the poor-house? You act as though I had won that much money at the county fair, or had squandered an equal amount at the same place. The truth is, Gottfried Nothafft entrusted me with three thousand taler. That’s what he did; that’s the truth. It was his intention to keep the whole affair from the chatter of women. And he willed that I should use this hard-earned capital in a productive way, and not give it to the culprit who would waste it in debauchery and worse if possible.”

“Ill-gotten goods seldom prosper,” said Theresa, without looking up. “Things may go along all right for ten years, and that seems like a long time, but the vengeance of Heaven comes in the eleventh, as it has already come in the case of little Marcus.”

“Theresa—you’re talking like a mad woman,” said Jason Philip at the top of his voice. With that he picked up a chair, and threw it on the floor so violently that every cup, spoon, and plate in the room shook.

Theresa turned her peasant face toward him without the shadow of a trace of fear. He was a trifle alarmed: “You’ll have to be responsible, if you can, for any misfortune that visits us in the future.” She spoke these words with a deep voice.

“Do you think I am a bandit?” said Jason Philip. “Do you think I want to pocket the money? Don’t you think that I am capable of anything better or higher than that? Or is ambition of any sort quite beyond your powers of comprehension?”

“Well, what ambitions do you have?” asked Theresa in a tone of sullenness, her eyes in the meantime blinking.

“Listen,” Jason Philip continued, as he sat down on the chair he had so violently abused a minute before, and assumed the air [32]of a teacher: “The culprit has got to submit, and that with good grace. He has got to fall on his knees before me. And he’ll come to it. I have made some inquiries; I am on his tracks; and I know that he has just about reached the end of his rope. He’ll come, depend upon it he’ll come around, and when he does he will whine. Then I am going to take him into the business. In this way we will see whether it is humanly possible to make a useful man out of him. If I can, and if he sticks, I’ll call him into the office, tell him the whole story, make everything as clear as day to him, and then offer to take him in as a partner in the firm. You have got to admit that he will be a made man if he becomes my partner. He will have sense enough himself to see this, and as sure as you are living, he will first kiss my hand and then eat out of it for the kindness I have shown him. And once this has all been put through, I will bind him to us more firmly than ever by having him marry Philippina.”

A wry smile disfigured Theresa’s face. “I see, so, so,” she said in a sing-song tone. “You will have him marry Philippina. I take it that you feel that she will be hard to marry, and that the man who does marry her will have his hands full. Well, that’s not a bad idea.”

“In this way,” continued Jason Philip, without detecting the scorn in Theresa’s words, “the account between the culprit and myself will be settled. He will become a decent member of society, the money will remain in the family, and Philippina will be cared for.”

“And suppose he does not come; suppose he does not fall on his knees; suppose you have made a miscalculation. What then?” Whether Jason Philip himself believed what he had said Theresa could not determine. Nor had she the slightest desire to enlighten herself on this point. She did not look him in the face, but contented herself with letting her eyes rest on his hands.

“Well—there will be time then to change my plans,” said Jason Philip, in a tone of peeved vexation. “Leave it to me. I have turned the whole situation over in my mind; I have omitted not the slightest detail. I know men, and I have never made a mistake in judging them. Mahlzeit!

With that he went out.

Theresa remained seated for a while, her arms folded across her breast. Then she got up, and walked over to the door that opened on to the court. Suddenly she stopped as if rooted to the sill: she caught sight of Philippina, who was then sitting by the [33]window mending a pair of socks. On her face there was an expression of naïveté that may be harmless in itself, but it was enough to arouse suspicion.

“What’s the matter with you, why didn’t you go to school?” asked Theresa uneasily.

“I couldn’t; I had a headache,” said Philippina curtly, and broke the thread as she gave a hasty jerk at the needle. Her dishevelled hair hung down over her forehead and quite concealed her face.

Theresa was silent. Her gloom-laden eyes rested on the diligent fingers of Philippina. It was easy to suspect that the girl had heard everything Jason Philip had said, for he had such a loud voice. She could have done this without going to the trouble of listening at the door. Theresa was minded to give the girl a talking-to; but she controlled herself, and quietly withdrew.

Philippina looked straight through her as she left. But she did not interrupt her work, and in a short while she could be heard humming a tune to herself. There was a challenge in her voice.

VII

Daniel’s money was about at an end. The new sources on which he had hoped to be able to draw were nowhere to be discovered. He defiantly closed the doors against care; and when fear showed its gloomy face, he shut up shop, and went out to drown his sorrows with the brethren of the Vale of Tears.

Schwalbe, the sculptor, had made the acquaintance of Zingarella, then engaged in singing lascivious couplets at the Academy, and invited the fellows to join him.

The Academy was a theatre of the lowest description. Smoking was, of course, permitted. When they arrived the performance was over. People were still sitting at many of the tables. Reeking as the auditorium was with the stench of stale beer, it left the impression of a dark, dank cavern.

With an indifference that seemed to argue that Zingarella made no distinction between chairs and people, she took her seat between the sculptor and the writer. She laughed, and yet it was not laughter; she spoke, and her words were empty; she stretched out her hands, and the gesture was lifeless. She fixed her eyes on no one; she merely gazed about. She had a habit of shaking her bracelet in a way that aroused sympathy. And after making a lewd remark she would turn her head to one side, and thereby [34]stagger even the most hardened frequenter of this sort of places. Her complexion had been ruined by rouge, but underneath the skin there was something that glimmered like water under thin ice.

The former winsomeness of her lips was still traceable in the sorrowed curves of her now ravaged mouth.

At times her restless eyes, seeking whom they might entangle, were fixed on Daniel, then sitting quite alone at the lower end of the table. In order to avoid the unpleasant sensation associated with the thought of going up to such a distinguished-looking person and making herself known to him, she would have been grateful had some one picked her up and thrown her bodily at his feet. There was an element of strangeness about him. Zingarella saw that he had had nothing to do with women of her kind. This tortured her; she gnashed her teeth.

Daniel did not sense her hatred. As he looked into her face, marked with a life of transgression and already claimed by fate, he built up in his own soul a picture of inimitable chastity. He tried to see the playmate of a god. The curtain decorated with the distorted face of a harlequin, the acrobat and the dog trainer at the adjacent table, who were quarrelling over their money, the four half-grown gamblers directly behind him, the big fat woman who was lying stretched out on a bench with a red handkerchief over her face and trying to sleep, the writer who slandered other writers, the inventor who discoursed so volubly and incessantly on perpetual motion—to all of this he paid not the slightest bit of attention. For him it could just as well have been in the bottom of the sea. He got up and left.

But as he saw the snow-covered streets before him and was unable to decide whether he should go home or not, Zingarella stepped up to him. “Come, be quick, before they see that we are together,” she whispered. And thus they walked along like two fugitives, whose information concerning each other stops short with the certainty that both are poor and wretched and are making their way through a snow storm.

“What is your name?” asked Daniel.

“My name is Anna Siebert.”

The clock in the St. Lorenz Church struck three. The one up in the tower of St. Sebaldus corroborated this reckoning by also striking three and in much deeper tones.

They came to an old house, and after floundering through a long, dark, ill-smelling passage way, entered a room in the basement. Anna Siebert lighted a lamp that had a red chimney. [35]Gaudy garments of the soubrette hung on the wall. A big, grey cat lay on the table cover and purred. Anna Siebert took the cat in her arms and caressed it. Its name was Zephyr. It accompanied her wherever she went.

Daniel threw himself on a chair and looked at the lamp. Zingarella, standing before the mirror, stroked the cat. Gazing distractedly into space, she remarked that the manager had discharged her because the public was no longer satisfied with her work.

“Is this what you call the public?” asked Daniel, who never once took his eyes from the lamp, just as Anna Siebert kept hers rigidly fixed on the desolate distances of the mirror. “These fathers of families who side-step every now and then, these counter-jumpers, the mere looks of whom is enough to snatch your clothing from your body, this human filth at the sight of which God must conceal His face in shame—this is what you call the public?”

“Well, however that may be,” Anna Siebert continued in a colourless voice, “the manager rushed into my dressing room, threw the contract at my feet, and said I had swindled him. How on earth could I have swindled him? I am no prima donna and my agent had told him so. You can’t expect a Patti on twenty marks a week. In Elberfeld I got twenty-five, and a year ago in Zürich I even drew sixty. Now he comes to me and says he doesn’t need to pay me anything. What am I to live off of? And you’ve got to live, haven’t you, Zephyr,” said Anna as she picked up the cat, pressed its warm fur to her cheek, and repeated, “You’ve got to live.”

She let her arms fall to her sides, the cat sprang on the floor, hunched up its back, wagged its tail, and purred. She then went up to Daniel, fell on her knees, and laid her head on his side. “I have reached the end,” she murmured in a scarcely audible voice, “I am at the end of all things.”

The snow beat against the window panes. With an expression on his face as though his own thoughts were murdering each other, Daniel looked into the corner from which Zephyr’s yellowish eyes were shining. The muscles of his face twitched like a fish on being taken from the hook.

And as he cowered in this fashion, the poor girl pressed against his body, his shoulders lowered, past visions again arose from the depths of the sea. First he heard a ravishing arpeggio in A-flat major and above it, a majestic theme, commanding quiet, as it were, in sixteenth triads. The two blended, in forte, with a powerful chord of sevens. There was a struggling, a separating, a wandering [36]on, and out of the subdued pianissimo there arose and floated in space a gentle voice in E-flat minor. O voice from the sea, O humanity on earth! The eighth note, unpitiable as ever in its elemental power, cut into the bass with the strength that moves and burrows as it advances, until it was caught up by the redeemed voice in E-flat major. And now everything suddenly became real. What had formerly been clouds and dreams, longing and wishing, at last took shape and form and stood before him. Indeed he himself became true, real, and conscious of his existence in a world of actualities.

On his way home he covered his face with his hands, for the windows of the houses gaped at him like the hollow eyes of a demi-monde.

VIII

Zingarella could not imagine why the strange man had left. He seemed to be quite indifferent. Her heart beat with numerical accuracy, but there was no strength in the beats. The sole creature through which she was bound to the world was Zephyr.

Night followed night, day followed day. Each was like the preceding. She spoke when people took enough trouble to speak to her. She laughed when they had the incomprehensible desire to hear laughter. To-day she wrapped this dress around her shivering body, to-morrow another. She waited for the time to come when she was to do something definite. She lay in bed and dreaded the darkness; she pondered on the injustice of the world; she thought of her own disgrace, and reflected on the need that surrounded her. It was too much for her to bear.

A man would come, and at daylight he would leave and mingle with the rest of the people on the street. When she awoke she could no longer recall what he looked like. The landlady would bring in soup and meat. Then some one knocked at the door; but she did not open it. She had no desire to find out who it was. Perhaps it was the man who had been with her the night before; perhaps it was another.

She had neither curiosity nor hope. Her soul had dissolved like a piece of salt in water. When she returned home on the third day she found Zephyr lying by the coal-scuttle dead. She knelt down, touched the cold fur, wrinkled her brow, shook her bracelet, and went out.

It was getting along toward night, and the air was heavy with [37]mist. She went first through lighted streets, and then turned into others that were not lighted. She passed through avenues of leafless trees, and walked across silent squares. The snow made walking difficult. When it was too deep, she was obliged to stop every now and then and take a deep breath.

She reached the river at a point where the shore was quite flat and the water shallow. Without thinking for a moment, without a moment’s hesitation, just as if she were blind, or as if she saw a bridge where there was none, she walked in.

First she felt the water trickling into her shoes. Then she could feel her legs getting wet, as her clothes, soft, slippery, and ice-cold, clung to her body. Now her breast was under the water, and now her neck. She sank down, glided away, took one deep breath, smiled, and as she smiled she lost consciousness.

The next day her body was washed up on the shore some distance beyond the city. It was taken to the morgue of the Rochus Cemetery.

IX

Schwalbe, the sculptor, was attending a funeral. His nephew had died, and was being buried in the same cemetery.

As he passed by the morgue he caught sight of the body of a girl. After the child had been buried he went back to the morgue. A few people were standing near the body, one of whom said, “She was a singer down at the Academy.”

Schwalbe was struck by the pure and beautiful expression on the girl’s face. He studied it long and with no little emotion. Then he went to the superintendent, and asked if he might take a death mask. The permission was given him, and in a few hours he returned with the necessary implements.

When he removed the mask from the face, he held something truly wonderful in his hands. It showed the features of a sixteen-year-old girl, a face full at once of sweetness and melancholy, and, most charming of all, an angelic smile on the curved lips of this mouth of sorrow. It resembled the work of a renowned artist, so much so that the sculptor was suddenly seized with a burning desire to regain his lost art.

He was nevertheless obliged within a week to sell the mask to the caster by whom he was employed in Pfannenschmied Street. Schwalbe needed ready money. The caster hung the mask by the door at the entrance to his shop.

[38]

X

At the end of December Daniel found himself with not a cent of cash, so that he was obliged to sell his sole remaining treasure, the score of the Bach mass in B-minor. Spindler had presented it to him when he left, and now he had to take it to the second-hand dealer and part with it for a mere pittance.

Unless he cared to lie in bed the whole day, he was obliged to walk the streets in order to keep warm. His poverty made it out of the question for him to go to any of the cafés, and so he was excluded from association with the brethren of the Vale of Tears. He had moreover taken a violent dislike to them.

One evening he was standing out in front of the Church of Ægydius, listening to the organ that some one was playing. The icy wind blew through his thin clothing. When the concert was over he went down to the square, and leaned up against the wall of one of the houses. He was tremendously lonesome; he was lonely beyond words.

Just then two men came along who wished to enter the very house against the wall of which he leaned. He was cold. One of these men was Benjamin Dorn, the other was Jordan. Benjamin Dorn spoke to him; Jordan stood by in silence, apparently quite appreciative of the condition in which the young man found himself, as he stood there in the cold and made unfriendly replies to the questions that were put to him. Jordan invited Daniel up to his room. Daniel, chilled to the very marrow of his bones, and able to visualise nothing but a warm stove, accepted the invitation.

Thus Daniel came in contact with Jordan’s family. He had three children: Gertrude, aged nineteen, Eleanore, aged sixteen, and Benno, fifteen years old and still a student at the gymnasium. His wife was dead.

Gertrude was said to be a pietist. She went to church every day, and had an inclination toward the Catholic religion, a fact which gave Jordan, as an inveterate Protestant, no little worry. During the day she looked after the house; but as soon as she had everything in order, she would take her place by the quilting frame and work on crowns of thorns, hearts run through with swords, and languishing angels for a mission. There she would sit, hour after hour, with bowed head and knit.

The first time Daniel saw her she had on a Nile green dress, fastened about her hips with a girdle of scales, while her wavy brown hair hung loose over her shoulders. It was in this make-up [39]that he always saw her when he thought of her years after: Nile green dress, bowed head, sitting at the quilting frame, and quite unaware of his presence, a picture of unamiability, conscious or affected.

Eleanore was entirely different. She was like a lamp carried through a dark room.

For some time she had been employed in the offices of the Prudentia, for she wished to make her own living. So far as it was humanly possible to determine from her casual remarks, she thoroughly enjoyed her work. She liked to make out receipts for premiums, lick stamps, copy letters, and see so many people come in and go out. Stout old Diruf and lanky Zittel did everything they could to keep her interested, and if, despite their efforts, it was seen that a morose mood was invading her otherwise cheerful disposition, they took her out to the merry-go-round, and in a short time her wonted buoyancy had returned.

She seemed like a child, and yet she was every inch a woman. She insisted on wearing her little felt cap at a jaunty angle on her blond hair. When she entered the room, the atmosphere in it underwent a change; it was easier to breathe; it was fresher. People somehow disapproved of the fact that her eyes were so radiantly blue, and that her two rows of perfect white teeth were constantly shining from out between her soft, peach-like lips. They said she was light-hearted; they said she was a butterfly. Benjamin Dorn was of the opinion that she was a creature possessed of the devil of sensuality and finding her completest satisfaction in earthly finery and frippery. For some time there had been an affair of an intimate nature between her and Baron von Auffenberg. Just what it was no one knew precisely; the facts were not obtainable. But Benjamin Dorn, experienced ferreter that he was, could not see two people of different sexes together without imagining that he was an accomplice in the hereditary sin of human kind. And one day he caught Eleanore alone in the company of Baron von Auffenberg. From that day on she was, in his estimation, a lost soul.

The fact concerning Eleanore was this: life never came very close to her. It comes right up to other people, strangles them, or drags them along with it. It kept its distance from Eleanore, for she lived in a glass case. If she had sorrow of any kind, if some painfully indeterminable sensation was gnawing at her soul, if the vulgarity and banality of a base and disjointed world came her way, the glass case in which she lived simply became more [40]spacious than ever, and the things or thoughts that swarmed around it more and more incomprehensible.

One can always laugh if one lives in a glass case. Even bad dreams remain on the outside. Even longing becomes nothing more than a purple breath which clouds the crystal from without, not from within.

The people were quite right in saying that Jordan was bringing up his daughters like princesses. Both were far removed from the customary things of life: the one was translated to the realm of darkness, the other to that of light.

Daniel saw both of them. They were just as strange to him as he to them. He saw the brother, too, a tall, glib, dapper youth. He saw the old house with its dilapidated stairs, its rooms filled with cumbersome, provincial furniture. He saw the alternating currents of life in this family: there was now rest, now unrest, now quiet, now storm. Life flowed out from the house, and then life, the same or of a different origin, flowed back in again. When he came, he talked with Jordan himself rather than with any one else; for he always knew when Jordan would be at home. They spoke in a free and easy fashion and about things in general. If their conversation could be characterised more fully, it might be said that Daniel was reserved and Jordan tactful. Gertrude sat by the table and attended to her needlework.

Daniel came and warmed himself by the stove. If he was offered a sandwich or a cup of coffee he declined. If the offer was made with noticeable insistency, he shook his head and distorted the features of his face until he resembled an irritated ape. It was the peasant spirit of defiance in him that made him act this way. He nourished a measure of small-minded anxiety lest he be indebted to somebody for something. To temptations, yielding to which would have been spiritually mortifying, he was impervious. When, consequently, his need became overpowering, he simply stayed away.

XI

His want grew into a purple sheen. To him there was an element of the ridiculous in the whole situation: it was 1882 and he had nothing to eat; he was twenty-three years old and quite without food.

Frau Hadebusch, virago that she could be when a dubious debtor failed to fulfil his obligations, stormed her way up the steps. [41]The rent was long overdue, and uncanny councils were being held in the living room, in which an invalid from the Wasp’s Nest and a soap-maker from Kamerarius Street were taking part.

In his despair, Daniel thought of entering the army. He reported at the barracks, was examined—and rejected because of a hollow chest.

At first there was the purple sheen. He saw it as he stood on the hangman’s bridge and looked down into the water where pieces of ice were drifting about. But when he raised his distressed face a gigantic countenance became visible. The great vaulted arch of heaven was a countenance fearfully distorted by vengeance and scorn. Of escape from it there could be no thought. Within his soul everything became wrapped in darkness. Tones and pictures ran together, giving the disagreeably inarticulate impression that would be made by drawing a wet rag across a fresh, well-ordered creation.

As he walked on, it seemed to him that the horror of the vision was diminishing. The countenance became smaller and more amiable. It was now not much larger than the façade of a church and what wrath remained seemed to be concentrated in the forehead. An old woman passed by, carrying apples in her apron. He trembled at the smell of them; but he did not reach out; he did not try to take a single one of them from her; he still held himself in control. By this time the entire vision was not much larger than the top of a tree, and in it were the traces of mercy.

The sun was high in the heavens, the snow was melting, birds were chirping everywhere. As he sauntered along with uncertain steps through Pfannenschmied Street he suddenly stopped as if rooted to the pavement. There was the vision: he caught sight of it in bodily form on the door jamb of the shop. He could not see that it was the mask of Zingarella. Of course not, for it was a transfigured face, and how could he have grasped a reality in his present state of mind? He looked from within out. The thing before him was a vision; it joined high heaven with the earth below; it was a promise. He could have thrown himself down on the street and wept, for it seemed to him that he was saved.

The incomparable resignation and friendly grief in the expression of the mask, the sanctity under the long eyelashes, the half extinguished smile playing around the mouth of sorrow, the element of ghostliness, a being far removed from death and equally far removed from life—all this caused his feeling to swell into [42]one of credulous devotion. His entire future seemed to depend upon coming into possession of the mask. Without a moment’s hesitation or consideration he rushed into the shop.

Within he found a young man whom the caster addressed most respectfully as Dr. Benda, and who was about thirty years old. Dr. Benda was being shown a number of successful casts of a figure entitled “The Fountain of Virtue.” It was quite a little while before the caster turned to Daniel and asked him what he wanted. In a somewhat rude voice and with an unsteady gesture, Daniel made it clear to him that he wished to buy the mask. The caster removed it from the door, laid it on the counter, and named his price. He looked at the shabby clothing of the newly arrived customer, concluded at once that the price, ten marks, would be more than he could afford, and turned again to Dr. Benda, so that Daniel might have time to make up his mind.

The two conversed for quite a while. When the caster finally turned around, he was not a little surprised to see that Daniel was still standing at the counter. He stood there in fact with half closed eyes, his left hand lying on the face of the mask. The caster exchanged a somewhat dazed glance with Dr. Benda, who, in a moment of forewarning sympathy, grasped the situation perfectly in which the stranger found himself. Dr. Benda somehow understood, owing to his instinct for appreciation of unusual predicaments, the man’s poverty, his isolation, and even the ardour of his wish. Subduing as well as he might the feeling of ordinary reserve, he stepped up to Daniel, and said to him calmly, quietly, seriously, and without the slightest trace of condescension: “If you will permit me to advance you the money for the mask, you will do me a substantial favor.”

Daniel gritted his teeth—just a little. His face turned to a greenish hue. But the face of his would-be friend, schooled in affairs of the spirit, showed a winning trace of human kindness. It conquered Daniel; it made him gentle. He submitted. Dr. Benda laid the money for the mask on the counter, and Daniel was as silent as the tomb.

When they left the shop, Daniel held the mask under his arm so tightly that the paper wrapping was crushed, if the mask itself was not. The sad state of his clothing and his haggard appearance in general struck Dr. Benda at once and forcibly. He needed to ask but a few well chosen questions to get at the underlying cause of this misery, physical and spiritual, in human form. [43]He pretended that he had not lunched and invited Daniel to be his guest at the inn at the sign of the Grape.

Daniel felt that his soul had suddenly been unlocked by a magic key. At last—he had ears and could hear, eyes and could see. It seemed to him that he had come up to earth from out of some lightless, subterranean cavern. And when they separated he had a friend.

[44]THE NERO OF TO-DAY

I

The spectacle of wellnigh complete degeneracy offered by the roister-doistering slough brethren of the Vale of Tears gave Herr Carovius a new lease on life. He had a really affable tendency to associate with men who were standing just on the brink of human existence. He always drank a great deal of liqueur. The brand he preferred above all others was what is known as Knickebein. Once he had enjoyed his liberal potion, he became jovial, friendly, companionable. In these moods he would venture the hardiest of assertions, not merely in the field of eroticism, but against the government and divine providence as well.

And yet, when he trippled home with mincing steps, there was in his face an expression of cowardly, petty smirking. It was the sign of his inner return to virtuous living; for his night was not as his day. The one belied the other.

He had a quite respectable income; the house in which he lived was his own private property. It was pointed out to strangers as one of the sights of the town; it was certainly one of the oldest and gloomiest buildings in that part of the country. An especially attractive feature of it was the smart and graceful bay-window. Above the beautifully arched outer door there was a patrician coat-of-arms, consisting of two crossed spears with a helmet above. This was chiselled into the stone. In the narrow court was a draw-well literally set in a frame of moss. Each floor of the house had its own gallery, richly supplied with the most artistic of carvings. The stairway was spacious; the tread of the steps was broad, the elevation slight; there were four landings. It symbolised in truth the leisurely, comfortable tarrying of centuries gone before and now a matter of easy memory only.

Often in the nighttime, Herr Carovius recognised in the distance the massive figure of his brother-in-law, Andreas Döderlein, the professor of music. Not wishing to meet him, Herr Carovius would stand at the street corner, until the light from Döderlein’s study assured him that the professor was at home. On other occasions [45]he would come in contact with the occupant of the second floor, Dr. Friedrich Benda. When these two came together, there was invariably a competitive tipping of hats and passing of compliments. Each wished to outdo the other in matters of courtesy. Neither was willing to take precedence over the other. The polished civility of the young man made an even greater degree of pretty behaviour on the part of Herr Carovius imperative, with the result that his excessive refinement of manners made him appear awkward, while his embarrassment made coherent speech difficult and at times impossible.

When however he came alone, he would take the huge key from his pocket, unlock the door, light a candle, hold it high above his head, and spy into every nook and cranny of the barn-like hall before entering his apartment on the ground floor.

II

Herr Carovius was a regular customer at the Crocodile Inn; a table was always reserved for him. Around it there assembled every noon the following companions: Solicitor of the Treasury Korn, assistant magistrate Hesselberger, assistant postmaster Kitzler, apothecary Pflaum, jeweller Gründlich, and baker Degen. Judge Kleinlein also joined them occasionally as a guest of honour.

They gossiped about their neighbours, their acquaintances, their friends, and their colleagues. What they said ran the whole gamut of human emotions from an innocent anecdote up to venomous calumny. Not a single event was immune from malicious backstairs comment. Reputations were sullied without discrimination; objections were taken to the conduct of every living soul; every family was shown to have its skeleton in the closet.

When the luncheon was finished, the men all withdrew and went about their business, with the exception of Herr Carovius. He remained to read the papers. For him it was one of the most important hours of the day. Having feasted his ears with friends in private, he now turned to a study of the follies, transgressions, and tragedies that make up everyday life.

He read three papers every day: one was a local sheet, one a great Berlin daily, and the third a paper published in Hamburg. He never deviated; it was these three, week in and week out. And he read them from beginning to end; politics, special articles, and advertisements were of equal concern to him. In this way he familiarised himself with the advance of civilisation, the changes [46]civic life was undergoing, and the general status of the aristocracy, bourgeoisie, and proletariat.

Nothing escaped him. He was as much interested in the murder of a peasant in a Pommeranian village as he was in the loss of a pearl necklace on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris. He read with equal concentration of the sinking of a steamer in the South Sea and the wedding of a member of the Royal Family in Westminster Abbey. He could work up just as much enthusiasm over the latest fashions as he could over the massacring of enslaved Armenians by the Turks. If he read with care and reflection of the death of a leading citizen, he pursued the same course with regard to the reprehending of a relatively harmless vagabond.

It is only fair to remark, however, that his real sympathy was with those events that have to be entered on the calamitous side of life’s ledger. This was due to a bizarre kink in his philosophy: he studied the world primarily from the point of view of its wars, earthquakes, floods, hailstorms, cyclones, and public and private tragedies in the lives of men. Happy and reassuring events, such as the birth of a healthy child, the conferring of an order of distinction, heroic deeds, the winning of a prize in the lottery, the publication of a good book, or the announcement of a legitimate and successful speculation made no impression on him. At times they even annoyed him. He kept his mind, in other words, riveted on the evils, sorrows, woes, and tribulations that come to pass either on this earth or in the starry firmament above, and that were somehow brought to his attention.

His brain was a storehouse of fearful and ferocious happenings; it was a catalogue, an inventory of disease, seduction, theft, robbery, larceny, assassination, murder, catastrophe, pest, incest, suicide, duel, bankruptcy, and the never failing family quarrel.

If he chanced to enrich his collection by the addition of some especially curious or unheard-of incident, he took out his pocket diary, noted the date, and then wrote: “In Amberg a preacher had a hemorrhage while delivering his morning sermon.” Or: “In Cochin China a tiger killed and ate fourteen children, and then, forcing its way into the bungalow of a settler, bit off the head of a woman as she was sleeping peacefully by the side of her husband.” Or: “In Copenhagen a former actress, now ninety years old, mounted a huge vegetable basket on the market place, and recited Lady Macbeth’s monologue. Her unconventional behaviour attracted such a large crowd of passersby that several people were crushed to death in the excitement.”

[47]

This done, he would go home, happy as a man can be. To idlers standing in the doorways or servants looking out the windows he would extend the greetings of the day, and that with really conspicuous cordiality.

If a fire broke out in the city, he was present. As his eyes peered into the flames, they seemed intoxicated, obsessed, seized with uncanniness. He would hum a tune of some sort, look into the anxious faces of those immediately concerned, busy himself with whatever had been salvaged, and attempt to force his gratuitous advice on the fire chief.

If a prominent citizen died, he never failed to attend the funeral, and, where possible, to join the procession on the way to the cemetery. He would stand by the grave with bowed head, and take in every word of the funeral discourse. But his lips twitched in a peculiar fashion, as if he felt that he were understood, and flattered.

And in truth all this did flatter him. The defeat, distress, and death of other people, the betrayals that take place in any community, the highhanded injustice of those in power, the oppression of the poor, the violence that was done to right and righteousness, and the sufferings which had to be borne by thousands day after day, all this flattered him; it interested him; it lulled him into a comfortable feeling of personal security.

But then he sat down at his piano at home, and played an adagio of Beethoven or an impromptu by Schubert, his eyes with fine frenzy rolling in the meantime. And when the mighty chorus in a Bach oratorio resounded, he became pale with ecstasy. At the hearing of a good song well sung he could shed copious tears.

He idolised music.

He was a provincial with unfettered instincts. He was an agitator with a tendency to conservatism. He was a Nero without servants, without power, and without land. He was a musician from despair and out of vanity. He was a Nero in our own day.

He was the Nero of our day living in three rooms. He was a lonely bachelor and a bookworm. He exchanged his views with the corner grocer; he discussed city ordinances with the night watchman; he was a tyrant through and through and a hangman at heart; he indulged in eavesdropping at the shrine of fate, and in this way concocted the most improbable of combinations and wanton deeds of violence; he was constantly on the lookout for misfortune, litigation, and shame; he rejoiced at every failure, [48]and was delighted with oppression, whether at home or abroad. He hung with unqualified joy on the imagined ruins of imaginary disaster, and took equal pleasure in the actual debacles of life as it was lived about him. And alongside of this innate and at times unexpressed gruesomeness and bloodthirstiness, he was filled with a torturing passion for music. This was Herr Carovius. Such was his life.

III

For nine long years, that is, from the time she was fifteen until she was twenty-four, his sister Marguerite kept house for him. She got his breakfast, made his bed, darned his socks, and brushed his clothes; and all he knew about her was that she had yellowish hair, a skin full of freckles, and a timid, child-like voice. His astonishment was consequently unbounded when Andreas Döderlein called one day and proposed to her. He had moved into the house the year before. Herr Carovius was amazed for the very simple reason that he had never known Marguerite except as a fourteen-year-old girl.

He took her to task. With unusual effort she summoned the courage to tell him that she was going to marry Döderlein. “You are a shameless prostitute,” he said, though he did not dare to show Andreas Döderlein the door. The wedding took place.

One evening he was sitting in the company of the young couple. Andreas Döderlein, being in an unusually happy mood, went to the piano, and began playing the shepherd’s motif from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde.”

Herr Carovius sprang to his feet as if stung by a viper, and exclaimed: “Stop playing that foul magic! You know as well as you are living that I don’t believe in it.”

“What do you mean, brother?” asked Andreas Döderlein, his head bowed in grief.

“What are you trying to do? Are you trying to teach me something about this poisoner of wells?” shouted Herr Carovius, and his face took on the enraged expression of a hunchback who has just been taunted about his deformity. “Does the professor imagine that he knows better than I do who this Richard Wagner is, this comedian, this Jew who goes about masked as the Germanic Messiah, this cacaphonist, this bungler, botcher, and bully, this court sycophant, this Pulchinello who pokes fun at the whole German Empire and the rest of Europe led about by the nose, [49]this Richard Wagner? Very well, if you have anything to teach me about him, go on! Proceed! I am listening. Go on! Pluck up your courage.” With this he leaned back in his chair, and laughed a laughter punctuated with asthmatic sighs, his hands in the meantime resting folded across his stomach.

Andreas Döderlein rose to his full stature, see-sawed a bit on the tips of his toes, and looked down on Herr Carovius as one might look down upon a flea that one had caught and was just in the act of crushing between two finger nails. “Oh, ho,” he said, “how interesting! Upon my word, brother Carovius, you are an interesting individual. But if some one were to offer me all the money in the world, I should not like to be so ... interesting. Not I. And you, Marguerite, would you like to be so interesting?”

There was something distinctly annihilating in this air of superiority. It had its full effect on Herr Carovius: his unleashed laughter was immediately converted into a gurgling titter. He opened his eyes wide and rolled them behind his nose-glasses, thus making himself look like a water-spitting figure on a civic fountain. Marguerite, however, timid as she was, never saying a word without making herself smaller by hiding her hands, glanced in helpless fashion from her brother to her husband, and dropped her head before them.

Was the feeling of Herr Carovius for Andreas Döderlein one of hatred? It was hatred and more. It was a feeling of venomous embitterment with which he thought of him, his name, his wife, his child, the thick, bulky wedding ring on his finger, and the gelatinous mass of flesh on his neck. From that evening on he never again visited his sister. If Marguerite got up enough courage to visit him, he treated her with crabbed contempt. She finally came to the point where she would pass his door with not a thought of entering it.

When the first child was born and the maid brought him the glad tidings, he squinted into the corner, tittered, and made bold to say: “Well, my congratulations. It is good that the Döderleins are not to become extinct, for so long as one of them is living, plaisir will not have vanished from the earth.”

Little Dorothea formed in time the habit of playing on the steps or around the old windlass well in the backyard. Herr Carovius procured forthwith a mean dog and named him Cæsar. Cæsar was tied to a chain, to be sure, but his snarls, his growls, his vicious teeth were hardly calculated to inspire the child with a [50]love for the place near him. She soon stopped playing at home.

Four years had elapsed since the Carovius-Döderlein wedding. Herr Carovius was celebrating his birthday. Marguerite called with Dorothea. The child recited a poem which she had learned by heart for her uncle’s benefit. Carovius shook with laughter when he saw the girl dressed up like a doll and realised that the recital was imminent. Dorothea had of course the enunciation of one of her age. When through, Herr Carovius said: “Honestly, it would never have occurred to me that such a little toad could croak so beautifully.”

Though the man knew so little about women that it would be perilous to attempt to measure his ignorance of them, he nevertheless felt, as he looked into Marguerite’s radiant face, a certain disappointment in life—a disappointment which he would try at once to benumb but which delighted him.

IV

About this time Herr Becker died. He was the senior city official, and had been living in the second story of the apartment for twenty-eight years. Dr. Benda moved in at once with his mother.

Carovius told all about this at the reserved table in the Crocodile. His companions were in a position to tell him a great deal more about the ancestry and past life of the Bendas. They were said to have been very rich once, to have lost their money in the great panic, and to be living at present in quite moderate circumstances. Benda’s father was said to have shot himself, and his mother was reported to have taken the boy to school every morning. Solicitor Korn had been told that, despite his youth, Dr. Benda had written a number of scientific books on biology, but that this had not enabled him to reach his desired goal.

“What goal?” the table companions asked in unison.

“Why, he wanted to be made a professor, but people had objected.” Why had they objected? came the question from more than one throat. “Well, you see it was this way: the man is a Jew, and the authorities are not going to appoint a Jew to an official position in a university without raising objections. That is to be taken as a matter of course.” That this was in very truth to be taken as a matter of course was also the opinion of Herr Carovius, who, however, insisted that Benda didn’t exactly look like a Jew; he looked more like a tolerably fat Dutchman. He [51]was in truth not quite blond, but he was not dark either, and his nose was as straight as a rule.

“That is just the point: that’s the Jewish trick,” remarked the Judge, and took a mighty draught from his beer glass. “In olden times,” he said, “the Jews all had the yellow spots, aquiline noses, and hair like bushmen. But to-day no Christian can be certain who is Jew and who is Gentile.” To this the whole table agreed.

Herr Carovius at once began a system of espionage. He studied the faces of the new tenants, and was particularly careful to note when they went out and when they came in and with whom they associated. He knew precisely when they turned the lights out at night and when they opened the windows in the morning. He could tell exactly how many rugs they had, how much coal they burned, how much meat they ate, how many letters they received, what walks they preferred, what people they spoke to, and who recognised them. As if this were not enough, he went down to the bookstore, bought the complete works of Dr. Benda, and read these heavy scientific treatises in the sweat of his brow. He was annoyed at the thought that they had not been critically reviewed. He would have embraced any one who would have told him that they were all perfectly worthless compilations.

One evening, along towards spring, he chanced to go into the backyard to feed Cæsar. He looked up, and saw Marguerite standing on the balcony. She did not see him, for she was also looking up. On the balcony of the second floor, across the court from her, stood Friedrich Benda, responding to some mute signals Marguerite was giving him. Finally they both stopped and merely looked at each other, until Marguerite caught sight of her brother, when she quickly disappeared behind the glass door draped with green curtains.

“Aha,” thought Carovius, “there’s something up.” The scene warmed his very blood.

From that day on he avoided the court. He sat instead for hours at a time in a room from which he could look out through a crack and see everything that was taking place at the windows and on the balconies. He discovered that signals were being sent from the first floor up to the second by changing the position of a flower pot on the railing of the balcony, and that these signals were answered by having a yellow cloth flutter on now a vertical, now a horizontal pole.

At times Marguerite would come out quite timidly, and look up; at times Benda appeared, and stood for a while at the window [52]completely absorbed, as it seemed, in melancholy thoughts. Herr Carovius caught them together but on one single occasion. He opened the window as quickly as he could, and placed his ear so that he could hear what was being said, but it so happened that over in the adjoining yard some one was just then nailing a box together. As a result of the noise it was impossible for him to understand their remarks.

Since that day they exchanged no more signals, and never again appeared on the balcony.

Carovius rubbed his hands at the thought that the majestic Andreas Döderlein had after all grown horns. But his joy waned when he reflected that two other people were deriving profit from the situation. That should not be; that had to be corrected.

And so he stood at times in the evening out in the narrow passage at the entrance to his apartment. His bathrobe fell down over his bony body in many folds. In his right hand he carried a candle. Thus equipped, he listened in, or rather into, the stillness of the house.

At times he would take a dark lantern, walk up the stairs slowly, step by step, and listen, listen with the greedy ears of a man who was determined to hear something. There was something in the air that told him of secret, and of course illicit, transactions.

Was it the same medium through which he learned of the weakening of Marguerite’s mind and the beclouding of her soul? Was it this that told him of her mental anxiety and the ever growing delusion of her terrified and broken heart?

Later he learned of her mad outbursts of anxiety concerning the life of her child. He heard that she would never allow the child out of her sight; that she regarded the natural warmth of her body as a high fever; that every morning she would stand by Dorothea’s bed, weep, take her in her arms, feel her pulse, and wrap her body in warm clothing. He heard, too, that night after night she sat by the child’s bedside watching over her and praying for her, while the child herself slept like an old shoe. All this he learned from the maid.

One day Herr Carovius came home, and found an ambulance and a crowd of gaping people before the house. As he went up the stairway he heard a hushed whimpering. Marguerite was being dragged from the house by two men. The rear of this procession was brought up by Andreas Döderlein, on whose face there was an expression of accusation. The room door was open. [53]He looked in, and saw bits of broken glasses and dishes, and in the midst of the debris sat Dorothea. Her mouth was puckered as if just on the point of weeping, and a cloth was bound about her forehead. The maid stood in the door wringing her hands. And on a step above was Friedrich Benda, white as a sheet, and evidently suffering from great mental anxiety.

Marguerite offered but little resistance. She looked behind her, and tried to see what the child was doing. Herr Carovius buried his hands in his overcoat pockets, and followed the mournful caravan out on to the street. The poor woman was taken to the insane asylum at Erlangen.

Herr Carovius said to himself: somebody is responsible for all this. He determined at once to bring the guilty party to account. He took this stand neither out of grief nor from a feeling of love for his fellow men. His action was motivated by his hatred of a world in which something is constantly going on, and in the midst of which he was condemned to an inactive and deedless life.

V

Not much could be learned from Döderlein’s maid. The efforts to draw something out of little Dorothea were also fruitless. She was wrapped up in her own affairs. She arranged her ribbons, played with her toys, recounted the small incidents of her uneventful life, and could hardly be persuaded even to listen to the ingenious questions Carovius put to her when he stopped her out in the hall and asked her about this and that.

One day he went over to Erlangen to visit his sister in the insane asylum. He thought that he might be able to get some clue to this mystery from her.

He found her sitting in the corner of a room, stroking her long, yellowish hair. Her head was bowed; her eyes were fixed on the floor. Through no cunning that he could devise was it possible to entice a single statement from her.

The physician said: “She is a harmless patient, but most secretive and passionate. She must have suffered for years from some heavy burden on her soul.”

Herr Carovius left her, and went back to the station. The sun was shining bright. He soon saw to his infinite discomfort that it was impossible to eliminate the picture of the melancholy woman from his inner eye. He went into a café and drank some [54]whiskey. On the return journey an old woman sat opposite him who seemed to understand him. There was a trace of compassion in her eyes. This made him so uneasy that he found it necessary to change his seat.

He had met with unanticipated difficulties in his investigation. He recognised these fully, but consoled himself with the thought that there was still time. It occurred to him that he might somehow get hold of Dr. Benda and cross-question him. He recalled having seen Friedrich Benda meet little Dorothea on the stairway once, and no sooner had he seen her coming than he made every effort to avoid her. That set Carovius to thinking.

Some gas pipes had to be installed in the apartment about that time, and this gave him, as superintendent, a splendid opportunity to go up and see Benda. The doctor was just then making his final attempt to claim his rights—the rights of a man and a scholar—against the conspiracy of enemies who were really immune before the law.

He was all alone when Carovius called. He took him straight to his study. The walls of his hall as well as those of his room were covered with books from floor to ceiling. Benda said he was just getting ready to go on an extended journey. The finished politeness with which he removed the books from a chair and the tense way in which he eyed Herr Carovius made it clear to the latter that this was neither the time nor the place to engage in mock conversation. Carovius talked gas pipes. Benda finished all he had to say on this subject in two short, crisp sentences and got up to go.

Herr Carovius got up too, removed his nose glasses, and rubbed them with his bright blue handkerchief. “Where are you going, if I may ask?” There was an expression of apparent sympathy in his question.

Benda made it a habit never to treat any man impolitely, however little regard he might have for him personally. He said that he was going to Kiel to deliver his trial lecture at the university.

“Bravo!” cried Carovius, falling at once into the tone of awkward familiarity. “You have simply got to show those fellows that you are not a coward. Bravo!”

“I don’t quite understand you,” said Benda in amazement. His antipathy for the man was growing. And no one recognised this better than Carovius himself.

He cast a sideglance that reeked with hypocrisy at the young scholar. “My dear doctor, you must not look upon me as a poor [55]uncultured yokel,” he said, “anch’ io sono pittore. I have read, among other things, your monograph on the morphogenetic achievements of the original sulcate cell. Listen, man! I take off my hat to that book. Of course, it is not exactly original, but then it is one of your earlier works. The idea developed in it follows pretty closely that of the evolutionary and mechanical theories of the much slandered Wilhelm Roux. And yet I am bound to say you display considerable independence in your method. Indeed you do. And more than that, you throw much needed light on the mysteries of God himself. There is a good deal of incoherent drivel these days about the freedom of science. Well, you’ll have to show me where it is. Scientists? They are a lot of conceited pin-heads, each working for himself, and incurably jealous of what his colleagues are doing. Up and at ’em, Doctor, that’s my advice, and luck to you!”

Benda was amazed to hear Carovius mention a work that was otherwise known only to specialists. This however merely tended to increase his distrust. He knew too much about the man to stand before him without a feeling of hostility. He merely needed to call to mind the story of the woman whose youth he had made into a waste place and a prison to be made aware of the fact that it was quite impossible to stand in his presence and breathe easily. The air of the room in which Carovius chanced to be was heavy, stuffy, depressing.

Benda’s bearing, however, remained unchanged. He replied in a serious tone: “It is not after all easy to get along with people. Each has his own place and wants to keep it. I thank you very much for your visit and your kind words, but my time is limited. I have a great deal to do—”

“Oh, certainly,” said Carovius hastily, while a rancorous grin flitted across his face, “but you don’t need to drive me away. I am going on my own accord. I have an engagement at the district court at five o’clock, I am to sign some sort of a document concerning the detention of my sister in the insane asylum. It probably has to do with the settling of her estate or something like that. Who knows? By the way, what have you to say about the affair? You knew her rather intimately. No hedging, doctor. There she sits in the cell and combs her hair. Can you imagine who is responsible? You know a woman doesn’t lose her mind from a mere love affair. And this music swindler down stairs—it is impossible to get him to show his true colours. Yes, we all have our troubles.”

[56]

In order to take the sting out of his impudent insinuations, for he regretted having made a premature move with his trump card, Carovius smiled in a scurrilous fashion, ducked his head, coward that he was, and riveted his greedy, banal eyes on Benda.

But Benda was looking down. His eyes had been attracted by the fancy buckle shoes of Herr Carovius. He was repelled by the man’s foppish socks with the yellow stripes which were made more conspicuous by the fact that his trousers were too high. He had a feeling of unmitigated mental nausea, too, when he noticed how Carovius lifted first one foot and then the other from the floor, and then set it down, heel first. It was a detestable habit; and indulging in it made an ugly noise.

VI

Benda’s absence lasted for hardly a year. His mother had not accompanied him this time. She was not feeling well, and there was some danger that she was losing her eyesight.

After his return he took to silent brooding. Though he never said a word to his mother about the disappointment he had experienced, she knew precisely what he had gone through, and spared him the humiliation that would have followed any questions she might have asked.

He was oppressed by the memories the house awakened in him. Forgotten pictures became living ones. The figure of the murdered woman appeared in the nighttime on the balcony. Her shadow fell upon him, nestled up to him in fact, as he sat at his writing-desk.

There were a great many things that still bound him to her whose spirit had vanished from the earth, though her body remained.

It was impossible for him to forget her gentle look or the coyness of her hands. He knew her fate; he knew her soul. But he was condemned to silence. To withdraw from contact with the world and into the deepest of loneliness had been her lot; it had also been his. At present it was possible to get only one picture of her, the one her brother had given: she sat in her cell and combed her yellow hair.

He held no one responsible; he blamed no one. He merely regretted that men are as they are.

A former university friend of his came in, and tried to get him interested in collaborating on a great scientific work. He [57]declined. As soon as his colleague of other days had gone, he visualised to himself the entire conversation: The man was affable and insistent; and yet there was in his very being an underground, enigmatic hostility. It was the hostility he invariably felt whenever he had anything to do, either of a purely external, business nature or in a social way, with men of other faith. The least he had to fear was a prejudiced inimicality, as if the individual in question were on the point of calling out to him: You stay on that side, I’ll stay on this. Keep off the bridge.

He was fully aware of this, but his pride forbade his fighting against it. He renounced his natural right to life and a living. He declined the university conceded privilege of co-existence. To go out and actually win for himself the right to participate in the inevitable contest of forces, or to secure even this poor privilege by supplication, or to defend it by argument, or to cajole it into his possession by political wiles, seemed to him contrary to reason and at odds with common sense. He would not do it.

He refused to knock at the door which he himself had bolted and barricaded.

From this self-imposed embarrassment he suffered to an almost intolerable degree. It was the irrational and fraudulent phase of matters that made him suffer. Did men act as they did because they were so strong in their faith? Not at all. Did he believe in those racial differences which made them believe? Not at all. He felt at home on the soil that nourished him; he felt under obligations to the weal and woe of his people; he was bound heart and soul to the best of them, and realised that he had been spiritually developed by their language, ideas, and ideals.

Everything else was a lie. They knew that it was a lie too, but out of his pride they forged a weapon and turned it against him. To deny his relationship to them, a relationship that had been proved by his achievements and enthusiasm, was a part of their plan; it was also a part of their evil designs.

To strike up acquaintances, seek out congenial companions, or take an active part in social organisations was repulsive to him. He did not care to be dragged into fruitless and empty community of effort or social co-operation. Defiant and alone, he explained his case to himself. Since it merely intensified his agony to compare his lot with that of others who seemed to be similarly situated, he did not do it. He avoided in truth all reflections that might have made the world appear to him as having at least a semblance of justice.

[58]

He was consequently filled with a longing which took more definite shape day by day, and finally developed into a positive and irrevocable decision.

About this time he made the acquaintance of Daniel, and through him he came to know other people. He saw at once that there was something unusual about Daniel; that there was something in him which he had never before noticed in any one. Even his outer distress was a challenge to greater activity, while his inner agitation never permitted his associates to rest in idle peace.

It was not easy to be of assistance to him; he rejected all gifts which he could not repay. He had to be convinced first of his duty and indebtedness to the friend whom fate had made cross his path. And even then he stood out for the privilege of being theoretically ungrateful.

Benda and his mother succeeded in getting him a position as a tutor in some private families. He had to give piano lessons to young boys and girls. The compensation was not great, but it at least helped him out for the time being.

After the day’s work was done, the evenings and nights bound the two more and more firmly together.

VII

One evening Daniel entered the house and met Herr Carovius. But he was so absorbed in thought that he passed by without noticing him. Carovius looked at him angrily, and walked back to the hall to see where the young man was going. When he heard him ring the bell on the second floor, an uneasy expression came over his face. He rubbed his chin with his left hand.

“The idea of passing by me as though I were a block of wood,” murmured Carovius spitefully. “Just wait, young man, I’ll make you pay for that.”

Instead of leaving the house as he had wished, Carovius went into his apartment, lighted a candle, and tripped hastily through three rooms, in which there were old cabinets and trunks filled with books and music scores. There was also a piano in one. He then took a key from his pocket, and unlocked a fourth room, which had closed shades and was in fact otherwise quite oddly arranged.

He went to a table which reached almost the full length of the room, picked up a piece of white paper, sat down, and wrote with red ink: “Daniel Nothafft. Musician. Two months in jail.”

[59]

He then covered the paper with mucilage, pasted it on a wooden box which looked like a miniature sentry-house, and nailed a lid on the box, using tacks that were lying ready for this purpose.

There were at least five dozen such boxes on the long table, the majority of which had names attached to them and had been nailed up.

The closed room Herr Carovius called his court chamber. What he did in it he termed the regulation of his affairs with humanity, and the collection of little wooden cells he called his jail. Every individual who had offended, hurt, humiliated, or defrauded him was assigned such a keep in which he was obliged to languish, figuratively, until his time, determined by a formal sentence, was up.

Nor was this all. In the middle section of the table there were a number of diminutive sand heaps, about thirty in all, and on each one was a small wooden cross and on each cross was a name. That was Herr Carovius’s cemetery, and those who were figuratively buried there were, so far as he was concerned, dead, even though they were still going about their earthly affairs as lively and cheerful as ever. They were people whose mundane careers were finished, as he saw it, and under each of their accounts, reckoned exclusively in sins, he had drawn a heavy line. They were such people as Richard Wagner and his champions, the local stationer to whom he had advanced some money years ago and who entered a plea of bankruptcy a few months later, the authors of bad books that were widely read, or of books which he loathed without having read them, as, for instance, those of Zola.

There were still a third noteworthy section of the table, and that was the so-called Academy. This consisted of a plot of ground, surrounded by an iron fence, and divided up into twelve or fifteen square fields, each of which was painted in fresh green. In the middle of each field there was a wooden peg about two inches high, and to the middle of each peg there was attached a name-plate. From the tops of some of these pegs little banners of green cloth fluttered in the breeze.

The fact is, Herr Carovius had a weakness for association with aristocrats. In his heart of hearts he admired the manners of the aristocracy, their indifference and self-complacency, their irrefragable traditions and their noiseless and harmonious behaviour. To the pegs of the Academy he had affixed the names of some of the best families he had known; among others, those of the Tuchers, [60]the Hallers, the Humbsers, the Kramer-Kleets, and the Auffenbergs. Whenever he had succeeded in making the personal acquaintance of the members of any of these families, he went straightway to the Academy and hoisted the appropriate flag.

But, despite all his effort, he had never in the course of time been able to run up more than three flags, and these only for a brief period and without any marked success. Some one had recognised him on the street or spoken to him at the concert, and that was all. The Academy looked, in contradistinction to the jail and the cemetery, quite deserted. Finally he was able to hoist the Auffenberg banner. Herr Carovius felt that the Academy had a great future.

VIII

Kropotkin the painter had once upon a time received an order to make a copy of a Holbein for Baron Siegmund von Auffenberg. He never finished the picture, owing to lack of ability; but he had become acquainted with Baron Eberhard, and years later, having met him quite accidentally, took him to the Paradise, where the infamous brethren were then in the habit of gathering.

Eberhard’s appearance at the Paradise was short-lived; he disappeared in fact as quickly as he had appeared. But this brief space was sufficient for Herr Carovius to become intimately acquainted with him.

The first time he sat at the same table with him he was noticeably excited. His face shone with a mild spiritual glow. His voice was sweet and gentle, his remarks of an unusually agreeable moderation.

He turned the conversation to a discussion of the superiorities of birth, and lauded the distinction of the hereditary classes. He said it was from them only that the people could acquire civic virtue. The brethren scorned his point of view. Herr Carovius came back at them with an annihilating jest.

During the rendition of this hallelujah-solo in praise of the nobility, Eberhard von Auffenberg intrenched himself behind a sullen silence. And though Carovius used every available opportunity from then on to flatter the young nobleman in his cunning, crafty way, he failed. The most he could do was to inspire Eberhard to lift his thrush-bearded chin in the air and make some sarcastic remark. Fawn as he might, Carovius was stumped at every turn.

[61]

One night, however, the two enjoyed each other’s company on the way home. That is, Carovius never left Eberhard’s side. Annoyed at the failure of his former tactics, he thought he would try his luck in another way: he ridiculed the arrogance of a certain caste which affected to attach less importance to a man like himself than to some jackanapes whose handkerchief was adorned with an embroidered crown.

“What are you, any way, what is your vocation?” asked Eberhard von Auffenberg.

“I don’t do anything,” replied Carovius.

“Nothing at all? That is quite agreeable.”

“Oh, I do work a little at music,” added Herr Carovius, entirely pleased at the curiosity of the Baron.

“Now, you see, that is after all something,” said the Baron. “I for my part am as unmusical as a shot-gun. And if you do not do anything but interest yourself in music, you must have a great deal of money.”

Herr Carovius turned away. The positive dread of being taken for a rich man wrestled with the vain desire to make the young Baron feel that he really was somebody. “I have a little,” he remarked with a titter, “a little.”

“Very well; if you will loan me ten thousand marks, it will give me great pleasure to make you a present of the crown on my handkerchief,” said Eberhard von Auffenberg.

Herr Carovius stopped stock still, and opened his mouth and his eyes: “Baron, you are taking the liberty of jesting with me.” But when Eberhard indicated that he was quite serious, Carovius continued, blank amazement forcing his voice to its highest pitch: “But my dear Sir, your father has an income of half a million. A mere income! The tax receipts show it.”

“Well, I am not talking about my father,” said Eberhard coldly, and once more threw his chin in the air. “It is evidently a part of your heraldic prejudices to feel that you can coax the income of my father into my own pockets.”

They were standing under a gas lamp at the Haller Gate. It was dripping rain, and they had raised their umbrellas. It was perfectly still; it was also late. Not a human being was to be seen anywhere. Carovius looked at the seriously offended young man, the young man looked at Carovius, then grinning a grin of embarrassment, and neither knew how to take the other.

“You are surprised,” said Eberhard, resuming the conversation. “You are surprised, and I don’t blame you. I am a discontented [62]guest in my own skin; that much I can assure you. I am as abortive a creature as ever was born. I inherited far too much that is superfluous, and not nearly enough of the necessities. There are all manner of mysteries about me; but they are on the outside. Within there is nothing but stale, dead air.”

He stared at the ground as though he were talking to himself, and as though he had forgotten that any one was listening, and continued: “Have you ever seen old knights carved in stone in old churches? If you have, you have seen me. I feel as if I were the father of my father, and as if he had had me buried alive, and an evil spirit had turned me to stone, and my hands were lying crossed over my breast and could not move. I grew up with a sister, and I see her as though it were yesterday”—at this point his face took on an expression of fantastic senility—“walking through the hall, proud, dainty, innocent, with roses in her hand. She is married to a captain of cavalry, a fellow who treats his men like Negro slaves, and who never returns the greeting of a civilian unless he is drunk. She had to marry him. I could not prevent it. Somebody forced her into it. And if she is carrying roses now, it is as if a corpse were singing songs.”

Herr Carovius felt most uneasy. He was not accustomed to hearing things like this. Where he lived people called a spade a spade. He pricked up his ears and made a wry face. “It is the way he has been trained that makes him talk like that,” he thought; “it is the result of constantly sitting on gold-embroidered chairs and seeing nothing about him but paintings.”

“I am going to sit on such chairs too,” he was happy to think, “and I shall see the paintings, too.” He pictured himself between the Baron and the Baroness, marching up to the portals of the castle, flanked on either side by a row of liveried servants, the nervous masses catching sight of the splendour as well as they might. The rear of this procession was being brought up by the young Baron, who had returned home as the penitent Prodigal Son.

“One must have a feeling of personal security,” remarked Carovius. He wondered whether the Baron had reached his majority. Eberhard replied that he had just completed his twenty-first year, and that certain things had made him feel that it would be wise to live independent of his family and to renounce his claims to all family rights for the time being. What he really had in mind was the desire to avoid, so far as humanly possible, association with all professional money-lenders.

Herr Carovius felt that this was an extremely serious case. [63]He claimed moreover to understand it perfectly and to be ready for anything, but insisted that nothing must be withheld, that he must be given undiluted wine. He made this remark just as if he were holding a glass of old Johannisberger out in the rain, sniffing as he did with appreciative nostrils.

“I am very discreet,” he said, “very taciturn.” He looked at the Baron tenderly.

The young Baron nodded.

“The wearer of purple is recognised wherever he goes,” continued Herr Carovius, “and if he lays the purple aside he stands at once in need of reticent friends. I am reserved.”

The Baron nodded again. “If you will permit me, I shall visit you in a few days.” With that he ended the conversation.

He started off toward the Avenue, walking stiffly. It was not hard to see that he was ill at ease. Herr Carovius walked away with mincing, merry steps down toward the small end of the alley, singing an aria from the “Barber of Seville” as he went.

At the end of the first week he was taken down with a disconcerting suspicion that the Baron had made a fool of him. He was filled with a wrath that had to be cooled. One morning, just as he was leaving his apartment, he saw two milk cans filled with milk standing in the outer hall. One was for the first floor, the other for the second. The milkmaid had placed them there for the time being, and had gone over to have a little morning chat with her neighbour. Herr Carovius went to his lumber-room, which also served as the kitchen, took down a jug of vinegar, came back, looked around with all the caution he could summon, and then poured half of the contents of the jug into one can and the other half into the other.

Two days later he decided not to give Cæsar anything to eat, so that he would terrify the neighbours by his howling. This worked. The dog howled and whined and barked night after night. It was enough to melt the heart of a stone. Nobody could sleep. Andreas Döderlein went to the police, but they told him that the case was beyond their jurisdiction.

Herr Carovius lay in bed rejoicing with exceeding great joy over the fact that the people could not sleep. He became enamoured of the idea that it might be possible, through some ingenious invention, to rob a whole city or a whole nation of its sleep. The inventor could then move about conscious of the fact that he was at once the distributor and the destroyer of the world’s supply [64]of sleep. If he so elected to exploit his invention, he could revel in the sight of an entire people pining, drying up, and eventually dying from the want of sleep.

After Cæsar had become quite savage, Herr Carovius decided to unleash him. It was just after sunset. He slipped up to the beast from the rear, and opened the chain lock. The dog ran like mad through the court and the hall, and out on to the street.

Just at this moment young Baron von Auffenberg was entering to pay Herr Carovius that promised visit. He jumped back from the beast, but it sprang at his body, and in a jiffy the Baron was lying full length on the pavement. Cæsar left him, made a straight line for the open door of a butcher shop across the street, sprang in, and snatched a fancy cut from one of the hooks.

In order to see just how much damage the dog would really do, Herr Carovius ran after him, hypocritically feigning as he ran an expression of horror, and acting as though the beast had somehow broken his chain and got loose. The first sight that caught his eyes was that of the young Baron as he rose to his feet and limped over toward his host to-be.

The horror of Herr Carovius at once became real. With the diligence of a seasoned flunkey, he stooped over, picked up the Baron’s hat, dusted it, stammered all sorts of apologies, gazed at high heaven like a martyred saint, and brushed the dirt from Eberhard’s trousers. Then the dog came back, a huge piece of meat in his mouth. The butcher came to the door and shook his fists. The butcher’s boy stuck two fingers in his mouth, and whistled for the police. They came, too, and Herr Carovius had to pay for the meat.

He then took the Baron into his living-room, plying him in the meantime with innumerable questions as to how he felt. Having been stunned by the fall, the Baron asked to lie down for a few minutes on the couch. Herr Carovius granted his wish, smothering him with sighs of affection and exclamations of regret.

As the Baron lay on the couch, trying to regain his vital spirits, Herr Carovius went to the piano and played the rondo from Weber’s sonata in A flat major. His technique was superb; his emotion was touching.

After the concert the transactions began.

[65]INSPECTOR JORDAN AND HIS CHILDREN

I

Benno Jordan was now a senior in the gymnasium and had begun to play mischievous pranks. He also declared that he was no longer minded to tolerate the tyranny of the school, and that he had not the slightest desire to enter the university. He was a wilful, obstinate boy with a marked tendency to sociability. He paid a great deal of attention to his clothes, and was proud of his handsome face.

After repeated conversations with the seventeen-year-old boy, Jordan decided to get him a job as a clerk in the offices of the Prudentia. He discussed the situation with the general agent, and Alfons Diruf gave his consent. Benno began his work at fifty marks a month.

When Jordan would come home of an evening, the first thing he would hear from Eleanore was that Benno had an engagement with some of his friends, and that they were in the Alfas Garden, or in the Wolf’s Glen, or in Café Merkur, where the orchestrion, then a new invention, was being played for the first time.

“Lord, what is to become of the next generation?” said Jordan, quite worried. “All they think about is having a good time. Why, I never in my whole life thought of merely amusing myself.”

Anxious about Benno’s behaviour, Jordan called on the chief of the clerical department. The little man with the waxened, weazened, face expressed himself as quite satisfied with the new employé. Jordan took him by the hand; it was his way of displaying gratitude. And he was grateful, though it was hard for him to subdue a feeling of solicitude. He recognised the boy’s external amiability, but felt convinced that this merely covered and concealed a decayed soul.

Alfons Diruf was obese and gloomy. His clothes were made in Paris, and on the ring finger of his left hand was a brilliant diamond.

Since the Prudentia had introduced the so-called workmen’s [66]insurance, the number of clerks on its payroll had been increased by about twenty-five thousand. Of these eighty-four were under Diruf’s direct supervision. They were located in three rooms of a house in Fürther Street. They were pale and they were silent. Diruf himself had a private office which resembled the boudoirs of a woman of the world. The curtains were of blue silk, a bathing nymph by Thumann hung on the wall, and the whole place smelled of musk.

Three times a day he would leave his fair retreat, and, with the mien of disgust, make the rounds of the clerks’ quarters. When they saw him coming, heads ducked, hands scurried across the books, feet stopped scraping, and all whispering died out.

He gave the impression of a man who hated his job, but in reality he loved it. He liked the clerks because of their servile docility and their famished faces. He liked them because they came promptly every morning and went away every evening tired as tired could be, and because day after day, year in and year out, they sat there and wrote, wrote, wrote.

He liked the inspectors because day after day, year in and year out, they did a great deal of work for a very little money. He liked the agents and sub-agents who made it possible for the company to issue hundreds of new policies every day. He liked their dirty clothes and tattered boots, their hungry looks, their misleading but effective line of talk, and their sad faces.

The special bait of the workmen’s insurance was the small premium, carrying with it a small policy. In this way the man of small means was to be educated in thrift. As a rule, however, the small man realised, when it was too late, that the agent had promised more than the company could do. He became distrustful; his weekly savings were so scant that it was impossible for him to pay his premiums regularly; with the expiration of each week it became increasingly difficult to make up the back payments, and, before he knew precisely what had happened, his policy had been declared void, and the money he had paid in on it confiscated.

In this way the company made millions. It was the pfennigs of the poorest classes that constituted these millions, made the dividends rise higher and higher, increased the army of clerks, and filled the pockets of the agents.

These agents were recruited from the scum of human society. They were made up of bankrupts, decadent students, gamblers, topers, and beggars. They came from the ranks of those who [67]had been pursued by misfortune and who bore the marks of crime. No one was too small or too bad.

Alfons Diruf, however, saw that it would vastly improve the credit of the company if to this list of outcasts he would add a few eminently respectable citizens. He consequently went out on his own responsibility, and looked for help. His quest brought him to Jason Philip Schimmelweis.

“It’s a gold mine,” he said; “you work for an ideal, and you get something out of it for yourself. Ideals, incidentally, that are not profitable are idiotic.” With that he blew the smoke of his Havana cigar through his nose.

Jason Philip understood. It was not necessary to flatter the leader and politician that was admittedly in him. He nearly ran his legs off working for the company. Alfons Diruf loved this socialist bookkeeper, after a fashion.

Inspector Jordan saw however that the countless brokers were encroaching on his territory and stirring up distrust on the part of his better clients. He lost his interest. The directors felt obliged to send Alfons Diruf a critical memorandum explaining Jordan’s case, and showing that he was no longer as efficient as he used to be.

II

Daniel had grown tired of his room in the attic and the society of brush-maker Hadebusch. He announced that he was going to move. Surrounded by a cloud of smells from boiled cabbage, Frau Hadebusch raged about the ingratitude of man. Her shrieks called Herr Francke and the Methodist from out their warm holes; the brush-maker and his imbecile son also appeared in the dimly lighted vestibule; and before these five Hogarth figures stood the defenceless sinner, Daniel Nothafft.

He looked about in the suburbs of St. Mary, but found everything too dear. He went out to New Gate, but everything was taken. He tried the St. John district, and that pleased him best of all. Late in the afternoon he came to a house in the Long Row, at the entrance to which hung a “To Let” sign.

He pulled the bell cord, and a beautiful servant girl took him into a room. Through the window he could look out on a garden filled with old trees. A spinster came in, and smiled at the pleasure he took in the room and the view.

“I must see my sister,” she said, as he asked her about the price.

[68]

She called out into the hall, and her sister, likewise an elderly and kindly spinster, came in. They held a council, the deliberations of which were conducted in muffled tones, and then agreed that they would have to consult Albertina. She was the third sister. The first tip-toed to the door and, with pointed lips, called the name, Albertina, out into the long hall with as much coyness as had been employed in summoning the second sister.

Albertina was the youngest of the three; she was about forty. But she had forgotten, like Jasmina and Saloma, to erase twenty years from the calendar: all three had preserved the youthful charm of their girlhood.

Albertina blushed as she looked at the young man, and her modesty was contagious; the two sisters also blushed. She told Daniel that they were the Rüdiger sisters. With that she remained silent, and looked down as though she had divulged her entire fate. She informed Daniel that they had decided to rent the room to some dependable young man, because there had been considerable petty thieving in the neighbourhood of late and they would like to enjoy the protection of a man, for they were entirely alone, except for the boy who tended the garden. They told him also that they had had several offers, but that they had declined them because they did not like the appearance of the applicants. In affairs of this kind, indeed in everything, the three sisters were always of like mind.

Fräulein Saloma asked Daniel what he did. He replied that he was a musician. A chorus of surprise greeted his ears, rendered in perfect time by the three female voices. Fräulein Jasmina asked him whether he was a singer or a violinist. He replied that he was neither, that he was a composer, or that he at least hoped to become one. With that an expression of intense spirituality spread over the faces of the sisters, so that they looked like triplets. Aha, a creative artist! “Y-e-s,” said Daniel, “if you wish to put it that way: a creative artist.”

They hopped into the corner like so many sparrows, and went into serious conference. Fräulein Saloma, as chairman, wanted to know whether a monthly rent of twelve marks would be too much. No, replied Daniel, that would not be excessive. He said it without giving the matter the slightest consideration, and then shook hands with the sisters. Fräulein Jasmina added that he could use the piano on the first floor whenever he wished to, and that it merely needed tuning. Daniel shook her hand again, this [69]time with special warmth. His joy had awakened in him a measure of clumsy familiarity.

Before he left the house he went out into the garden, and stood for a while under one of the trees. A tree to myself at last, he thought. Up in the top a blackbird was singing. Meta the servant looked out from the door where she was standing, astonished at it all.

Fräulein Albertina said to her sisters: “He seems like an interesting young man, but he has bad manners.”

“Artists attach no importance to externalities,” replied Fräulein Jasmina with knitted brow.

“A great mistake. He always looked as if he had just come out of a bandbox. You remember, don’t you?”

The other two nodded. The three then walked down the garden path, arm in arm.

III

Daniel was standing in the vegetable market before the Goose Man Fountain, eating apples.

The sun was shining, and he noticed that the shadow of the fountain was moving slowly toward the church. It made him sad to see that time was passing and how it was passing. When he turned around, however, and saw that the bronze figure of the man with the two geese under his arms was not merely indifferent to the passing of time but confident that all is well, he could not help but laugh.

What made him laugh was partly the calm of the man: he was always waiting for something, and he was always there. He was likewise amused at the thought that two geese could make a man look so contented.

IV

As Daniel was going home one afternoon from a piano lesson, he met Eleanore Jordan. He told her about his new room and the three bizarre creatures in the house in the Long Row.

Eleanore had heard all about them. She said they were the daughters of the geometrician Rüdiger, and that he had left the town some time ago because of a quarrel with the citizens, or rather with one of the gilds. The origin of the trouble was the picture of a certain painter. More she did not know, other than [70]that Rüdiger had gone to Switzerland and lost his life by falling down one of the mountains. The sisters, she said, were the laughing stock of the town. They never left the house except on certain days, when they went out to the nearby cemetery at the Church of St. John to place flowers on the grave of that painter.

Daniel hardly listened to what she said. They were standing at the St. Sebaldus Church, and the chimes began to play. “Magnificent,” he murmured, “an ascending triad in A.”

Eleanore asked him how he was getting along, and looked with regret at his sunken cheeks. Her virile expression was rather displeasing to him. He was surprised to see how rarely she lowered her eye lids. He said he was getting along quite well. She smiled.

“It’s terrible that a man has to have a monster in his body that must be fed,” he remarked. “Otherwise one could storm the heavens and steal the songs of the angels. But this was not to be. You have first to flutter your wings until they are wounded and break your chains, and by that time such ethereal power as you may have had is dissipated.”

He wrinkled his face until he again looked like the wily ape. “But I am going to see it through,” he said. “I want to find out whether God drew me from the urn as a blank or a prize.” He could be very eloquent when he talked about himself.

Eleanore smiled. It seemed to her that it was merely necessary to bring a little order into his life. She consequently assumed the responsibility of looking after his room.

In Tetzel Street they met the inspector. As Jordan walked along at the side of his beloved daughter, it seemed to him that the grey walls and weather-beaten stones of the houses were no longer so earthy or weighed down with time. Eleanore looked toward the West into the purple glow of the setting sun. She was not quite herself. There came moments when she suffered from homesickness for a fairer land.

She thought of Italy. She conjured up lovely visions of sunny bays, blooming groves, and white statues.

Daniel however went on toward the Füll. The workmen were coming from the suburbs, and in their tired faces he felt that he recognised his own world. “Oh,” he sighed, “I should like to get nearer the stars, to make the acquaintance of more dependable hearts, of hearts that are truer even than my own.”

Just then he looked up at Benda’s window, and saw his light. He was ashamed of himself.

[71]

V

The first time Eleanore visited Daniel it was along toward evening. She heard from a distance the piano and the shrill crowing of Daniel’s voice. Down in the hall she saw three white figures cuddled up close to each other like hens on a roost.

It was the Rüdiger sisters trying to drink in the creative efforts of the artist. That they were eavesdropping at the fount of art they understood both in the good and the bad sense: their enthusiasm was praiseworthy, their courtesy was deficient. When they caught sight of Eleanore on the stairway, they were terrified, and rustled into the adjoining room.

The three elderly hearts beat impetuously. It was Jasmina’s turn to read from Rückert’s poems. Jasmina had not the shadow of a desire to perform; her sisters were equally disinclined to listen.

“It is not right,” the three kept saying, when they heard of Eleanore’s visits. “It is not right.” Even Meta the maid was of the opinion that her calls were highly unconventional.

As Daniel played on and merely nodded to her, Eleanore’s eyes fell on the mask of Zingarella. She stepped up, took it down from the nail on the wall, and examined it in perfect silence.

Daniel had in the meantime left the piano. A loud cry from him startled her: “What the devil are you doing?” he exclaimed in a tone of immoderate anger. He took the mask, which she was handling so lightly and tremulously, out of her hands, and replaced it on the nail with affectionate care.

The sensitive girl at once began to cry. She turned to one side in order to conceal her tears. Daniel was irritated, but the first thought that occurred to him was how he could make amends for his rudeness. He fetched a worn book, and offered to lend it to her. It was a translation of that beautiful old novel, “Manon Lescaut.”

Eleanore came frequently after office hours, but never remained long; she did not wish to make the people at home uneasy. During the short time she stayed she always found a number of things to do, such as straightening up the papers on his table or arranging his scores.

She became acquainted with Benda; he took a liking to her. It did him good merely to be in her presence, and he could not understand why she did not have the same wholesome effect on Daniel. Daniel seemed thoroughly unappreciative of the girl. [72]He was like a man who goes along the street carrying a basket full of eggs: his sole ambition for the time being is to see that not a single egg is lost or broken.

The two would frequently accompany the girl home. Daniel always talked about himself, and Benda listened with a smile. Or Benda talked about Daniel, and Daniel was all ears.

What did people say? That Eleanore was now trotting around with three men, whereas she formerly had only one on her string, the Baron, and that you are going to hear from this affair.

Every now and then a snip of ugly gossip reached Eleanore’s ears. She paid not the slightest attention to it. She looked out from her glass case on to the world with cool and cheerful indifference, quite incapable of placing the established interpretation on the glances of calumniators.

VI

Benda could have sketched Daniel’s face in the darkness: the round forehead, the little nose, pointed and mulish, the rigidly pinched lips, the angular musician’s chin, and the deep dimples in his cheeks.

His ignorance of the musician was complete. Like all scholars, he nurtured an ingrained distrust when it came to the supernatural influence of art. For the great musical compositions which, in the course of time and as a result of the homage of succeeding generations, had come to be regarded as exemplary and incontestable, he had a feeling of reverence. For the creations of his contemporaries he had no ear.

That it was hard to understand and appreciate, he knew. That it was bitter not to be understood or appreciated, he had experienced. That the discipline associated with all intellectual work demands its tribute in the form of sacrificial renunciation needed no proof in his case.

The musician was something new to him. How did he regard him? As a blind man whose soul was on fire. As a drunken man who made the impression of repulsive sobriety on other men. As an obsessed individual who was living an excruciatingly lonely life and was unaware of it. As an unpolished peasant with the nerves of a degenerate.

The scientist wished to find the established and formulated law in the musician—a task that could lead only to despair. The friend surveyed the life of his friend; he allowed the personalities of [73]many young men whom he had met in life to pass before his mind’s eye. He looked for the criteria of common interests; he sought a law, even here. He sat in the dusk, and read from the works of the philosopher Mainländer. Then he laid the book to one side, and said to himself: “The youth of to-day are lacerating, devastating themselves.... It is a fearful age. Measure, proportion, and balance are gone. Every model becomes a caricature. The individual is absolutely dependent upon himself. The flame is without container, and threatens to burn the hand that would check it.”

In Daniel he had found his brother in fate. Music became his brother in torture. On seeing his friend lacerated and devastated, he saw twitch from the eye of Gorgo herself the profoundest of wisdom. But he did not lay bare his own heart.

One night, after unending conversation had brought them both to silence—like ships which, tossed about by the winds, at last drift into the harbour—Benda, taking up with an angry, exasperated remark by Daniel as it echoed back from the other shore of this silence, said: “We must not be vain. We dare not usurp a privilege which has no other basis than our inner task. We must never stand before our own picture. It seems to me that an artist should be of exalted modesty, and that without this modesty he is nothing but a more or less remarkable lout.”

Daniel looked up at once. Benda’s big teeth were visible under his bushy moustache. He had a habit of pulling his lips apart whenever he was searching for a really incisive word.

Benda continued: “The great majority of what you call talent is ignominious. Talent is a feather duster. All that comes from the finger tips is evil. The man who has a distinct goal and is willing to suffer in order to reach it, that man we can use. And otherwise—how beautiful it all is after all! Heaven is above us, the earth is beneath us, and in between stands immortal man.”

Daniel got up, and seized Benda’s hand. There was nothing more vanquishing than Benda’s handshake. His good strong right became a vise in which he shook a man’s hand until it became limp, a perfectly delightful benevolence radiating from his eyes in the meanwhile.

The two men exchanged the fraternal “thou.”

VII

Eleanore returned the copy of “Manon Lescaut.” When Daniel [74]asked her how she liked it, she never said a word. Since he thought that it was an excellent book, he began to scold.

She said: “I cannot read books in which there is so much talk about love.”

He gazed into space in order to allow her voice time to die away. There was a violin tone in her speech, the charm of which he could not escape. When he fully realised what she had said, he laughed a short laugh, and remarked that her attitude was one of affected coyness. She shook her head. Then he teased her about going with young Auffenberg, and asked her whether real love affairs were just as disagreeable to her as those related in novels.

The flaming blue of her eyes compelled him to look down. It was not pleasant for him to admit, by action, that the expression in her face was stronger than his own. She left, and did not allow herself to be seen for a few days.

When she returned, he was naïve enough to renew his banter. She took her seat on the corner sofa, and looked straight into his face: “Do we really intend to remain friends, Daniel?” she asked.

He cast a side glance of amazement at her, not because he was particularly struck by her charming suavity and marked winsomeness, but rather because the violin tone in her throat resounded more strongly and clearly than ever. But it was quite impossible for him to give an affirmative reply to her question without puckering up his lips and putting his hands in his trouser pockets.

She said she had no desire to seem important in his estimation, that she merely wanted him to regard her as different from other girls. She insisted that he concede her one privilege if they were to remain friends: he was not to talk to her about love, either seriously or in jest. She remarked that for months the very word love had called up ghost-like recollections. Why this was so, she said she could not tell him, not now, perhaps years from now when both had grown old. She could not do it, for if she endeavoured to refresh old memories or revive what she had half forgotten, her whole past arose before her, flat, languid, and insipid, easily misinterpreted by the person who heard the story, however clear it might be to her. She repeated that this was the way it was, and she could not help it. Once again she asked that he spare her feelings on this point.

Her face took on a serious expression; it resembled an old picture. There was something dream-like in her words.

[75]

“Well, if that is all you have on your mind, Eleanore, I am sure that it will be easy for me to respect your wish,” said Daniel. There was a manifest lack of feeling in the kindness he displayed. It seemed indeed that the secret to which she was attaching so much importance was far removed from his egotistically encircled world. The little fountain in the garden was rustling. He listened to see if he could not catch the dominating tone in the continual splashing.

Eleanore turned to him now with renewed if not novel candour. She was closer to him in every way—her eyes, her hands, and her words.

VIII

Daniel had just completed an orchestral work which he had entitled “Vineta.” He wished to have Benda hear it. One evening about six Benda came in. Everything was ready. Daniel sat down at the piano. His face was pale, his smooth upper lip was trembling.

“Now think of the sea; think of a storm; think of a boat with people in it. Picture to yourself a wonderful aurora borealis and a sunken city rising from the sea. Imagine a sea that had suddenly become calm, and in the light a strange phenomenon. Conjure up such a scene before your mind’s eye, or conjure up something totally different, for this is a false way of getting at the meaning of music. It is plain prostitution to think anything of the kind. Ice-flat.”

He was just about to begin, when some one knocked at the door. Eleanore entered. She whisked across the room, and took her seat on the sofa.

The piece opened with a quiet rhythmical, mournful movement, which suddenly changed to a raging presto. The melodic figure was shattered like a bouquet of flowers in a waterfall almost before it had had time to take shape and display real composure. The dissipated elements, scattered to the four corners of the earth, then returned, hesitatingly and with evident contrition, to be reunited in a single chain. It seemed that the mad whirlwind had left them richer, purer and more spiritual. They pealed forth now, one after the other, in a slow-moving decrescendo, until they constituted a solemn chorus played in moderato, melting at last into the lovely and serious main theme, which in the finale streamed away and beyond into infinity, dying out on an arpeggiated chord.

[76]

Where the piano failed to produce the full effect, Daniel helped out with his crow-like voice. It was the uncanny energy of expression that prevented his singing from having a comic effect.

Benda’s eyes were so strained in the effort to listen intelligently and appreciatively that they became dazed, glazed. Had he been asked he could not have said whether the work was a success or a failure. The feature of the performance that convinced him was the man and the magnetism that radiated from the man. The work itself he could neither fathom nor evaluate. It took hold of him nevertheless because of its inseparable association with the human phenomenon.

Daniel got up, stumbled over to the sofa, buried his face in his hands, and sighed: “Do you feel it? Do you really feel it?” He then rose, lunged at the piano, seized the score, and hurled it to the floor: “Ah, it’s no account; it is nothing; it is an abominable botch.”

He threw himself on the sofa a second time. Eleanore, sitting perfectly motionless in the other corner, looked at him with the eyes of an astonished child.

Benda had gone to the window, and was looking out into the trees and the grey clouds of the sky. Then he turned around. “That something must be done for you and your cause is clear,” he said.

Eleanore stretched out her arms toward Benda as though she wished to thank him. Her lips began to move. But when she saw Daniel she did not dare to say a word, until she suddenly exclaimed: “Heavens, there are two buttons on his vest which are hanging by a thread.” She ran out of the room. In a few moments she returned with needle and thread, which she had had Meta give her, sat down at Daniel’s side, and sewed the buttons on.

Benda had to laugh. But what she did had a tranquilising effect; she seemed to enable life to win the victory over the insidious pranks of apparitions.

IX

In years gone by, Benda had known the theatrical manager and impresario Dörmaul. He went to Dörmaul now, and took Daniel’s new work along with him; for the versatile parvenu, who always had a number of irons in the fire, also published music.

[77]

A few weeks elapsed before Benda heard from Dörmaul: “Incomprehensible stuff! Crazy attempt to be original! You couldn’t coax a dog away from the stove with it.” Such was Dörmaul’s opinion.

A young man with fiery red hair followed Benda to the door and spoke to him. He said his name was Wurzelmann and that he was a musician himself; that he had attended the Vienna Conservatory, where his teacher had given him a letter of recommendation to Alexander Dörmaul. He also told Benda that Dörmaul was planning to form an opera company that would visit the smaller cities of the provinces, and that he was to be the Kapellmeister.

He spoke in the detestable idiom of the Oriental Jew. Benda was politely cold.

The main point was still to come: “Vineta” had aroused Wurzelmann’s profound admiration; he had read the score on the side: “A great talent, Doctor, a talent such as we have not had for a long, long while,” said Wurzelmann.

“Yes, but what am I to say about Herr Dörmaul’s opinion?” asked Benda. He found it difficult to trust the man before him, and was using the judgment of the man behind him as a foil.

“Don’t you know Dörmaul? I thought you did. Whenever he has no authority to fear he becomes very bold. Lay the Ninth Symphony before him without Beethoven’s name to it, and he will tell you at once that it is rubbish. Do you want to bet?”

“Honestly?” asked Benda, somewhat concerned.

“Give me the score, and I’ll promise you to arouse the least sensitive from their lethargy with it. With a work of that kind you have got to blow the trumpet.”

Benda thought it over. He had no use for trumpet-blowing, and no confidence in those who did the blowing. And yet he consented, for he did not feel justified in arbitrarily depriving Daniel of a chance.

It turned out that Wurzelmann had told the truth. A fortnight later Daniel was informed that the Orchestral Union had decided to perform his work in February. In order to provide its hearers with a more elaborate picture of his creative ability, the Union asked him for a second work. His compositions were perfect; others needed revision.

Wurzelmann boasted of having won his way to the seats of the mighty. He had the cordial approval of such professors of music [78]as Wackerbarth and Herold. His masterpiece of diplomacy lay in the fact that he had secured Andreas Döderlein as director of the orchestra.

His store of suggestions was inexhaustible, his plans without number. He mentioned the fact that when the company was on the road they would have to have a second Kapellmeister, since he himself would have to function at times as substitute director: “Leave it all to me, dear Nothafft,” he said, “Alexander Dörmaul has got to dance to my tune, and my tune is this: It is Nothafft or nobody for Kapellmeister.”

If he began with humility, he concluded with familiarity. Daniel hated red-headed people, particularly when they had inflamed eyes and slobbered when they spoke.

“He is an unappetising fellow, your Wurzelmann,” he said to Benda, “and it is embarrassing to me to be indebted to him. He imagines he flatters me when he speaks contemptibly of himself. What he deserves is a kick or two.”

Benda was silent. Touched by Wurzelmann’s devoted efforts, he had called him servule, or the “little slave.” It was pleasant to think that there was some one to remove the stumbling blocks from the road, so that the feet of him who had risen from obscurity might find a place to walk. But the little slave was filled with the admiration of the Jew, born in poverty and oppression, for the genius of the other race.

Benda knew this. He was uneasy at the thought of it; for other and no less disingenuous fanatics regarded Wurzelmann’s behaviour merely as a racial peculiarity.

X

Summer with its hot August days had come. The two friends took frequent walks out to the suburbs, strolling through the forests of Feucht and Fischbach, or climbing the high hills about the city.

Eleanore joined them on one of these excursions. It was a joy to see her drink in the fragrance of the flowers and the fir trees or study the various cloud formations and the alternating scenes of the landscape. When she did this she was like a bird gliding along on noiseless wing in the upper regions, far removed from the grime of the earth, bathing in the undefiled air of the clouds.

She listened to the conversation of the friends with intelligent attention. A piercing glance or a wrinkle of the brow showed that she was taking sides, and accepting or rejecting in her own [79]mind the views that were being set forth. If she was moved to express an opinion of her own, she generally hit the nail on the head.

As they were returning home, night set in. The sky was clear; the stars were shining. There were a great number of falling stars. Eleanore remarked that she really did not have as many wishes as she could express under these circumstances. The erudite Benda replied with a smile that in these August nights there were frequently so many groups of asteroids that the whole firmament seemed to be in motion, and that one could easily grow tired of so many wishes.

Eleanore wanted to know what an asteroid was. Benda explained it to her as well as he could. Then he told her all about constellations and the milky way, and explained to her that the latter consists of millions of individual stars. He also spoke of the size of the stars; and since he referred to them occasionally as suns and worlds, she became somewhat sceptical, and asked him whether there were any earths among the stars. “Earths? What do you mean by earths?” he asked. “Why, earths, just like the one we live on,” she replied. Having been told that there were earths among the stars, Eleanore raised a number of rather cleverly framed questions about the trees and animals and people that might be found on these other earths. She was told that it was highly probable that they were all inhabited about as our own: “Why should this globe enjoy special privileges?” he asked. He added, however, that even if the inhabitants of the other earths did not have the same mental faculties that we have, they were at least beings endowed with reason and instinct.

“Do you mean to tell me that such people as you and Daniel and I may be living up there in those starry regions?”

“Certainly.”

“And that there are countless peoples and humanities up among the stars of whom we know nothing at all?”

“Certainly.”

Eleanore sat down on a milestone by the roadside, gazed out into space with trembling lips, and broke out crying. Benda took her hand, and caressed it.

“I am awfully sorry for all those peoples up there,” Eleanore sobbed, looked up, smiled, and let the tears take their course. Benda would have liked to take Daniel by the arm, and shout into his ear: “Look at her now!” Daniel was looking at her, but he did not see her.

[80]

XI

One evening in October, Inspector Jordan left his house in Broad Street, buttoned his top coat more closely about him, and walked hastily through a connecting alley that was so narrow that it seemed as if some one had taken a big knife and cut the houses in two. His goal was Carolina Street. It was late, and he was hungry. Doubting whether Gertrude would have a warm supper ready for him, he went to an inn.

He had spent two full hours there trying to get a rich hops dealer to take out some insurance. The man had him explain over and over again the advantages of insurance, studied the tables backwards and forwards, and yet he was unable to come to a decision. Then the waiter brought him his dinner. There he sat, smacking his lips with the noise of human contentment, his great white napkin tied under his chin in such a fashion that the two corners of it stuck out on either side of his massive head, giving the appearance of two white ears. He had offended Jordan’s social instincts: he had not thought it worth while to wait for an invitation.

Among other guests in the inn was Bonengel, the barber. He recognised Jordan and spoke to him. He took a seat in the background, picked out the ugliest and greasiest of the waitresses, and ordered a bulky portion of sausage and sauerkraut.

He told lascivious anecdotes. When the waitress brought him his food, she tittered, and said: “He is a jolly good fellow, Bonengel is.”

Jordan began to eat rapidly, but soon lost his appetite, pushed his plate to one side, propped his chin on his hands, and stared at the immobile clouds of tobacco smoke before him.

He had a feeling that it was no longer possible to keep at this work day after day, year in and year out. Running from one end of the city to the other, up and down the same stairs, through the same old streets—he could not do it. Answering the same questions, making the same assertions, refuting the same objections, praising the same plan in the same words, feigning the same interest and quieting the same distrust day after day—no, he could not do it. Disturbing the same people in their domestic peace, prodding himself on to new effort every morning, listening to the same curtain lectures of that monster of monsters, the insatiate stock market, and standing up under the commands of his chief, Alfons [81]Diruf—no, he was no longer equal to it. It was all contrary to the dignity of a man of his years.

He was ashamed of himself; and he was fearfully tired.

He thought of his past life. He recalled how he had risen from poverty, and worked up to the position of a highly respected merchant. That was when he was in Ulm. There he had married Agnes, the blond daughter of the railroad engineer.

But why had he never become rich? Other men who were distinctly inferior to him in shrewdness, diligence, and polish were now wealthy; he was poor. Three times he had been threatened with bankruptcy, and three times friends had come to his rescue. Then a partner joined him, invested some capital in the firm, and the business was once more on its feet.

But it turned out that this partner was a stranger to loyalty and quite without conscience. “Jordan is a drag on the business,” he would say to his customers, “Jordan is stupid, Jordan cannot make a calculation.” And the partner never rested until Jordan was paid a set sum and eased out of the firm.

He then tried his fortune here and there for eight or nine years. “Don’t worry, Jordan,” said Agnes, “everything will come out well.” But it did not. Whatever Jordan took hold of, he took hold of at the wrong end at the wrong time with the wrong people.

He could not get on. Not only because his hand was heavy and his head too honest, but because he had allowed himself to be befooled by a chimera.

Early in life he had had a dream, and all his enterprise and industry were directed toward the fulfilment of this dream. It had been impossible: he had never been able to save up enough money. Every time he discussed his favourite wish with Agnes, and told her about the happy days when he would be able to live his own life and be his own boss, she encouraged him and tried to help him. But it seemed now that she had known all along that he had merely been dreaming, and that her magnanimity had prompted her not to jolt him out of his delusion.

It had always seemed to him that the world of dolls was a world in itself. He had taken an enchanted delight in picturing the types of faces, clothes, and hair he would design for his various dolls, big and little. Dolls of the most variegated charm peopled his fancy: there were princesses of different degrees of proximity to the throne, fisher maids and mermaids; there were shepherds and shepherdesses, Casperls and lusty imps, dolls with [82]heads of porcelain and dolls with heads of wax, all so faithfully imitated that it would require anthropomorphic skill to detect that they were not human beings. Their hair was, of course, to be human hair. Some of them were to wear the costumes of foreign races, while others were to be dressed up like fairy figures, sprites, and gnomes. There was to be a Haroun al Raschid and an Oriental Dervish.

The last time he moved his choice fell on Nuremberg. He was attracted to Nuremberg because it was the centre of the doll industry.

About this time Agnes died, and he was left alone with the three children for whom he had to make a living. He no longer had the courage to hope for success or prosperity; even the doll factory had become a chimera. He had but one ambition: he wished to lay aside ten thousand marks for each of his three daughters, so that they would be provided for in any event after his death. The boy, he thought, could take care of himself.

Up to the present, however, he had not been able to place the half of this sum in the bank. And now, suppose he lost his position; suppose the frailties of old age prevented him from making his own living; suppose he was obliged to draw on the savings of years for his own support. How could he look his daughters in the face in the evening of his earthly life?

“The slag hid behind something in the cellar, and when his wife tried to bring him his pants, she let them fall in the flour bin.” This elegant remark emanated from Bonengel the barber.

His auditors gurgled, the waitress roared.

As Jordan walked home he could hear above the wind the voice of Bonengel the barber. It sounded like the rattling of a pair of hair-clippers.

He disliked walking up the steps to his front door; they were so narrow; they creaked as though they were ready to fall down; and he was always afraid he would meet some blind people. An oculist lived on the first floor, and he had often seen sightless persons feeling their way around.

A letter was lying on his table. The cover bore the address of the General Agency of the Prudentia Insurance Co. He walked up and down a while before opening it. It was his discharge papers.

[83]

XII

Friedrich Benda became more and more dejected. He saw that as a private individual he would have to waste energy that should be going into his profession. It seemed to him that he was condemned to bury his talent in eternal obscurity.

He broke off from the most of his acquaintances; with others he quit corresponding. If friends spoke to him on the street, he turned his head. His sense of honour had been wounded; he was on the point of losing his self-respect.

Daniel was the only one who failed to notice the change that was coming over him. Probably he had accustomed himself to the belief that Benda’s life was orderly and agreeable. The plebeian prosperity of the family in which he himself lived probably made him feel that that was the way his friend was living. At all events he never asked any questions, and was never once struck by the fact that Benda would sit before him for hours with his face wrapped in bitter, melancholy gloom.

Benda smiled at Daniel’s naïveté; for he felt that his attitude was due to naïveté and nothing more. He harboured no resentment. He decided not to say a word about his condition to Daniel, then all taken up with himself and his music. It was, however, at times impossible for him to prevent his smarting and his desire to put an end to his ineffectual existence from breaking through the coating of reserve in which he had encased himself.

Late in the afternoon of a dismal day, Benda called for Daniel just as he was finishing one of his piano lessons. The two friends decided to take a walk and then dine together at Benda’s.

In the hallway they met the Rüdiger sisters as they were returning from their daily stroll through the garden. Benda greeted them with an antiquated politeness; Daniel just barely touched the rim of his hat. The sisters lined up as if ready for a cotillion, and returned the greetings with infinite grace. Fräulein Jasmina let a rose fall, and when Benda picked it up for her, she pressed her hand against her scarcely noticeable breast and gave voice to her gratitude, again with infinite grace.

When they reached the street, Benda said in a tone of compassion: “They are three delicate creatures; they live their lonely lives like vestal virgins guarding a sacred fire.”

Daniel smiled. “Yes, a sacred fire? Do you refer to the incident with the painter?”

“Yes, I do; and he was no ordinary painter, either, let me tell [84]you. I heard the whole story the other day. The painter was Anselm Feuerbach.”

Daniel knew nothing whatever about Anselm Feuerbach. He was impressed, however, by the name, which, by virtue of a mysterious magic, struck his ear like the chime of a noble bell. “Tell me about him,” he said.

The story was as follows: Four years before his death, that is, six years ago, Anselm Feuerbach came to Nuremberg for the last time to visit his mother. He was already sick in body and soul, and was much disappointed in his alleged friends. The incessant torture resulting from lack of appreciation had told on his health. A few of the more enlightened citizens, however, recalled his fame, as it floated about in the heavy air of Germany, somewhat befogged and quite expatriated, and the Chamber of Commerce placed an order with Feuerbach for a painting to be hung in the Palace of Justice. Feuerbach accepted the order, choosing as his theme Emperor Ludwig in the act of conferring on the citizens of Nuremberg the right to free trade. When the picture was completed, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with it. The merchants had expected something totally different: they had looked for a cheap but striking canvas after the style of Kreling, and not this dignified, classical work by Feuerbach.

Nor was this all. The hanging space was so small that several inches of the canvas had to be run into the wall, and the light was wretched. The Chamber of Commerce proceeded at once to make trouble with regard to the paying of Feuerbach’s bill. An ugly quarrel arose in which Rüdiger, the geometrician, who had always been an ardent champion of Feuerbach, took the artist’s part. It finally reached the point where Rüdiger left the city, swearing he would never return. His daughters had all three loved Feuerbach from the time he lived in their father’s house.

“As a matter of fact, if there ever was an amiable artist,” Benda said in conclusion, “it was Anselm Feuerbach. Would you like to see him? Come, then.”

They were near the Cemetery of St. John. The gate was open, and Daniel followed Benda. They walked along a narrow path, until Benda pointed to a flat stone bearing the name of Albrecht Dürer. After this they came to Feuerbach’s grave. A bronze tablet, already quite darkened with age and weather, bore Feuerbach’s face in profile. Beneath it lay a laurel wreath, the withered leaves of which were fluttering in the wind.

[85]

“What a life he lived!” said Benda in a low tone. “And what a death he died! The death of a hunted dog!”

As they walked back to the city, night came on. Daniel had removed his hat, and was walking along at Benda’s side looking straight ahead. Benda was as nervous as he had ever been in his life.

“A German life, and a German death,” he exclaimed. “He stretched out his hand to give, and the people spat in it. He gives and gives and gives, and they take and take and take, without gratitude, yea, rather with, scorn. The only thing they study is their consanguinity table. They make the microscope and the catechism copulate; their philosophy and their police systems live in mésalliance. Good demeanour they know not; of human agreements they have never heard. They decide to do something, and they do it. That is all. There is no longer a place for me in Germany. I am leaving.”

“You are going to leave? Where are you going?” asked Daniel, in faithful amazement. Benda bit his lips, and was silent.

“Do you see these big white spots here? They have neither mountains nor rivers on them. Those are places that have never been trod upon by European feet. There is where I am going.” He smiled a gentle smile.

“Really? When?” asked Daniel, filled with dismay at the thought of losing his friend.

“I have not decided when, but it will be soon. I have work to do over there. I need air, room, sky, the free animal and the free plant.”

Benda’s mother came in. She was rather tall, walked with the difficulties of age, had sharp features and deep-set eyes.

She looked first at her son and then at Daniel. Then her eyes fell on the atlas and remained fixed upon it, filled with an expression of horror and anxiety.

Daniel did not know what to say. Benda, still smiling to himself, began to talk about other things.

XIII

At the death of her mother, Gertrude Jordan was nine years old. She had crept into the death chamber and sat by the bier for three hours. Perhaps her seclusion from the world and association with people dated from that hour. As she was leaving the [86]death room, the clock on the wall struck, and a cock crowed in the distance.

“Why do you tick, clock?” she asked in a loud voice, “why do you crow, cock?” And again: “Who makes you tick, clock, who makes you crow, cock?”

She had grown up, and no one knew anything about her. It was even difficult for her own father to approach her; how she was constituted, mentally and spiritually, he did not know. She never associated with girls of her own age. Her dark eyes glowed with wrath when she heard the senseless, sensuous laughter of other girls.

The first time she partook of the holy communion she swooned and had to be carried out. Jordan then took her to Pommersfelden to his sister, the widow of the district physician Kupferschmied. At the end of one week she returned alone, completely broken in spirit. She had seen a calf slaughtered; the sight had made her almost insane.

From the time she was fifteen years old she had insisted on having her own bed room. When she was sixteen she demanded that the maid be discharged; she herself did all the cooking and kept house. As soon as she had finished her work, she would take her seat by the quilting frame.

Through her father, Benjamin Dorn had come into the family. Gertrude liked him because Eleanore made fun of him. He did not seem to her like a man; he reminded her rather of the languishing angels she embroidered. He brought her all his religious tracts and edifying pamphlets, but she could not grasp the language. He took her to the Methodist revivals, but the noisy gnashing of teeth at these meetings terrified her, and after a few times it was impossible to persuade her to go back. He also recommended that she read the Bible, but she could find nothing in it that brought her peace of mind. It seemed that she had a wound in her soul that would not heal. Long after she had abandoned Benjamin Dorn and his cheap sanctimoniousness, he imagined that she still loved him and looked up to him. She managed, however, to come into his presence only on the rarest occasions, and then she never spoke to him.

Divine worship in the Protestant church seemed to her like a sort of bargain day on which the people assembled to do business with Heaven instead of on work days. She missed the dignity; the sermons left her cold; the ritual made not the slightest appeal to her.

[87]

She never heard from any one at any time a single sentence that really enlightened her or remained fixed in her memory. It was the jejune insipidity of an entire age, the stale flatness of the world that she felt to the very depths of her soul. If she wished to make her heart glow, if she became unusually fearful of the empty air and the empty day, she stole secretly into the Church of Our Lady or into St. Sebaldus, where the house of God was more solemnly decorated, where there were more lights burning, where the prayers had a more mysterious sound, the priests seemed to be more affected by what they were doing, and where the worshipper could sense the awful meaning of life and death.

All external beauty, however, was repulsive to her. She hated even beautiful scenery and fair weather, regarding them as temptations to mortal man intended to lead him into some sort of folly. She loved nothing about herself, neither her face nor her voice. She was indeed frightened at the sound of her own deep voice. She did not like her hair, nor had she any use for her hands.

One winter evening she took from her hand the gold ring, an heirloom from her mother, presented to her by her father, and threw it into the creek. Then she bowed down over the ledge, and seemed to feel as if she had relieved her soul of a great burden.

Eleanore tried time and time again to come near her sister, but each time she was thrust back. Though Gertrude never conversed with people, every word that was said about Eleanore reached her ears; she felt ashamed of her sister. She could not bear the looks of Eleanore, took an intense dislike to her, and in the end was obliged to summon all her courage in order to return her greeting. It was impossible for her, however, to reproach Eleanore; for that she did not have sufficient command of language. In truth, her control of words was exceedingly limited. Everything, grief as well as injustice, she was forced to stifle within her own soul. She grieved about Eleanore, and became at the same time more and more nervous and excited. It seemed that something about her sister was tantalising her, drawing her on, worrying her, making her lose sleep.

Her restlessness became so great that she could no longer sit at the quilting frame; in fact, it was no longer possible for her to do any kind of exacting work. Something drew her out of the house, and once she was away, something forthwith drew her back home. Her heart beat violently when she was alone, and yet, if her father or brother or Eleanore came in, she could not [88]stand their presence, and took refuge in her own room. If it was hot, she closed the windows; if it was cold, she opened them and leaned out. If it was quiet, she was filled with fear; if it was not quiet, she longed for peace. She could not say her prayers; she had none to say; her mind and soul were muted, muffled, dumb. She felt the hours following each other in regular order as something terrible; she wanted to skip over years, just as one might skip over pages of a tiresome book. And when the worst came to the worst, and she did not know what on earth to do, she ran to the Church of Our Lady, threw herself prostrate before the high altar, buried her face, and remained perfectly motionless until her soul had found greater peace.

Something made her go to Eleanore; she did not want to do it, but she could not help it. She was naturally vigilant, and she wished to ward off misfortune if possible. She was obsessed with an uncanny feeling, a gruesome curiosity. She dogged her sister’s steps in secret. One time she saw from a distance that Eleanore had started off with a man who had been waiting for her. She could not move from the spot; Eleanore caught sight of her.

The next day Eleanore came to her voluntarily, and told her quite candidly of her relation to Eberhard von Auffenberg. Concerning what she knew of Eberhard’s fate she said nothing; she merely indicated that he was extremely unhappy. She told her how she had met him the previous winter on the Dutzendteich at the ice carnival, how he ran after her, how glad she was to show him a little friendship, and how much he needed friendship.

Gertrude was silent for a long while. Finally she said, with a voice so deep that it seemed to have burst from being too full: “You two either must get married, or you must not see each other any more. What you are doing is a crime.”

“A crime?” said Eleanore astonished, “how so?”

“Ask your conscience,” was the answer, spoken with eyes riveted on the ground.

“My conscience is quite clear.”

“Then you have none,” said Gertrude harshly. “You lie, and you are being lied to. You are sunk in sin; there is no hope for you. That man’s evil looks! His ugly thoughts! And the thoughts of the other men! They are all beyond redemption. You are spotted through and through. You don’t know it, but I do.”

She got up, kicked the chair from her with her heels, and stared at Eleanore with her mysterious black eyes: “Never mention this [89]to me again,” she whispered with trembling lips, “never, never!” With that she went out.

Eleanore felt something like actual loathing for her own sister. Filled with an indescribable foreboding, she detected in Gertrude the adversary that fate had marked out for her.

XIV

When the autumn days came on and it began to get cold, Daniel was a frequent visitor at Jordan’s. Although he had a warm stove now of his own, he took pleasure in remembering the comfortable corner of a year ago. He had a greater affection for things and rooms than he had for human beings.

It was rare that he came in contact with Jordan, for now that he was no longer with the Prudentia, it was hard to locate him: he was doing odd jobs for a number of concerns, and this kept him more or less on the go. Benno came home after office hours, only to betake himself to his room, where he shaved and made himself as elegant-looking as possible for the social engagements of the evening. He did not like to be alone with Gertrude, so he never came until after six o’clock, when he knew that Eleanore would be at home. Realising that Eleanore was diligently pursuing the study of French and English, and that her evenings were therefore of great value to her, he begged her not to be disturbed by his visits. He said that he found nothing so agreeable as sitting still and saying nothing. After an hour or two, however, he left, murmuring an indistinct farewell as he did so.

At times he would bring a book with him and read. If he chanced to look up, he saw Eleanore bending over the writing table, her hair, bathed in a flood of golden light from the lamp, falling in fine silken threads over her temples, while her mouth was firmly closed, her lips inclined to droop at the corners, but in a lovely fashion. Then he saw Gertrude. She did not wear her hair loose; she put it up in a tight knot above her neck. Her dress was no longer the Nile green; it was made of brown cloth, and on the front was a row of glistening black buttons.

At times Eleanore would make some remark to him, and he would reply. At times the remarks between the two spun out into a verbal skirmish. Eleanore teased, and he was gruff; or he mocked, and Eleanore delivered a curtain lecture. Gertrude would sit with an expression of helpless amazement on her face, and look at the window. She purposely remained unoccupied; she purposely [90]postponed her household duties. The thought of leaving the two alone in the room was unbearable.

What Daniel did and said, how he walked or sat or stood, how he put his hands in his pockets and smacked his lips, all this and more aroused a sense of fear and shame in her. She regarded his candour as impudent presumption; she looked upon his capriciousness as malevolent irrationality; his indifferent manners and his disposition to slander she felt certain were of a piece with the scorn of the devil.

On one occasion he dropped a caustic remark about the bigots who contend that God is a moralising censor. Having this phase of ethics under discussion, he also paid his respects to those people who look upon every worm-eaten pastor as an archangel. Gertrude got up with a jerk, and stared at him. He stood his ground; he merely shrugged his shoulders. Gertrude whispered: “Men without faith are worse than contagious diseases.”

Daniel laughed. Then he became serious, and asked her what she understood by faith. He wanted to know whether she felt that faith was a matter of lip service. She replied, with bowed head, that she could not discuss sacred matters with a man who had renounced all religion. Daniel told her that her remark was slanderous. He wanted to know whether she had ever taken the pains to find out precisely how he stood in matters of religion, and if not, was this the reason she passed such final judgment on him with such suddenness and conviction. He asked her point blank whether she was quite certain that her so-called faith was better than his so-called unfaith. Not content with this, he asked where she got her authority, her courage, her feeling of security; whether she felt she had evidence to prove that she had carefully examined his soul; and whether she had at any time interviewed God.

He laughed again, whistled, and left.

Gertrude remained motionless for a while, her eyes fixed on the floor. Eleanore supported her chin on her hand, and looked at her compassionately. Gertrude began to tremble in her whole body, and, without raising her head, she stretched out her arms to Eleanore. Though quite unable to interpret this accusing gesture, Eleanore was terrified.

The next time Daniel came, he resumed his seat by the stove, and remained silent for a while. Then, without the slightest warning or apparent motivation, he began to discuss religion. And how? With the old spirit of defiance, as if from an ambuscade [91]from which he could send out his poisoned arrows, with calculating maliciousness and cold rebellion, with the air of a man who has been defeated, who is now being pursued, and who is willing to concede more to the earthly order of things than to the divine. Thus he sat, the incarnation of blasphemy, and once more shuffled the features of his face until he looked like the sedulous ape.

Eleanore felt that he was denying both himself and God, and that with violence. She went over to him, and laid her hand on his shoulder. Gertrude, a death-like pallor playing over her face, got up, passed by her and Daniel, and did not appear again that evening. Nor did she appear the following evening. From that time on she avoided his presence.

For one remarkable second and no longer, Daniel fixed his eyes on the shape of Gertrude’s legs. He became suddenly conscious of the fact that she was a woman and he was a man. During this second, one of the rarest of his life, he perceived the outer surface of her body, but without the enveloping clothes. He thought of her as a nude figure. It lasted only a second, but he pictured her to himself as a nude. Everything she had said and done fell from her like so much clothing.

He had a feeling that his eyes had been opened; that he had really seen for the first time in his life; and that what he now saw was the body of the world.

The nude picture followed him. He fought against his disquietude. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He conjured up the picture in order to destroy it with coolness and composure; but it would not be destroyed, nor would it vanish. One day he chanced to meet Gertrude by the beautiful fountain. He stopped, stood as if petrified, and forgot to speak to her.

XV

It was a cold, clear day in the middle of December. Eleanore wanted to go skating after dinner. She was known in the entire city for her skill on the ice. An irrepressible vivacity and sense of freedom pulsed through her body. It seemed to her lamentable that she should have to sit down in the overheated, sticky air of the office among all those clerks, and write.

She went, nevertheless, to the office, took her place among the clerks, and wrote as usual. Herr Zittel’s eyes shone through the lenses of his spectacles like two poison flasks. But she did not make much progress; time dragged; it dragged even more heavily [92]and slowly than Herr Diruf’s feet, as he made his rounds through the room. Eleanore looked up. She felt as if his gloomy eyes were resting on her. Conscious of having failed to perform her duty as she might have done, she blushed.

Finally the clock struck six. The other clerks left, making much noise as they did so. Eleanore waited as usual until they had all gone, for she did not like to mix with them. Just then Benjamin Dorn came wabbling in: “The Chief would like to speak to Fräulein Jordan,” he said, and bent his long neck like a swan. Eleanore was surprised: what on earth could Herr Diruf want with her? Possibly it had to do with Benno.

Alfons Diruf was sitting at his desk as she entered. He wrote one more line, and then stared at her. There was something in his expression that drove the blood from her cheeks. Involuntarily she looked down at herself and felt her flesh creep.

“You wanted to see me,” she said.

“Yes, I wanted to see you,” he replied, and made a weary attempt to smile.

There was another pause. In her anxiety Eleanore looked first at one object in the room and then at another; first at the bathing nymph, then at the silk curtains, then at the Chinese lampshade.

“Well, sweetheart,” said Herr Diruf, his smile gradually changing into a sort of convulsion, “we are not bad, are we? By the beard of the prophet, we are all right, aren’t we? Hunh?”

Eleanore lowered her head. She thought she had misunderstood him: “You wanted to see me,” she said in a loud voice.

Diruf laid his hand, palm down, on the edge of his desk. His solitaire threw off actual sparks of brilliancy. “I can crush every one of you,” he said, as he shoved his hand along the edge of the desk toward Eleanore. “That boy out there, your brother, is an underhanded sharper. If I want to I can make him turn a somersault, believe me.” He shoved his fat hand a little farther along, as if it were some dangerous engine and his solitaire a signal lamp. “I can make the whole pack of you dance whenever I want to. Can’t I, sweetheart? Capito? Comprenez-vous?

Eleanore looked into Alfons Diruf’s smeary eyes with unspeakable amazement.

Diruf got up, walked over to her, and put his arms around her shoulders. “Well, if the boy is a sweet-toothed tom-cat who can easily be led astray, you are a purring pussy-cat,” he said with a tone of terrible tenderness, and held the girl so tight in his arms [93]that she could not possibly move. “Now be quiet, sweetheart; be calm, my little bosom; don’t worry, you little devil!”

Horror, hot and cold, came over her, and filled her with unnamable dismay. Contact with the man had a more gruesome effect on her than anything she had ever even dreamed of. One jerk as though it were a matter of life and death, and she was free. White as a sheet, she nevertheless stood there before him, and smiled. It was a rare smile, something quite beyond the bounds of what is ordinarily called a smile. Alfons Diruf was no longer fat and fierce; he was like a pricked bubble; he was done for. And finding himself alone, he stood there for a while and gaped at the floor. He looked and felt hopelessly stupid.

Eleanore hastened through the streets, and suddenly discovered that she was in the Long Row. She turned around. Benda, then on the way over to call on Daniel, caught sight of her, recognised her by the light of the gas lamp, stopped as she passed by him, and looked after her not a little concerned.

When she reached home, she sank down on the sofa exhausted. To rid her mind of the memory of the past hour, she took refuge in her longing, longing for a southern country. Her longing was so intense, her desire to go south so fervent, that her face shone as if in fever. But the glass case had at last been broken.

The bell rang shortly before eight; she said to Gertrude: “If it is Daniel, send him away. I cannot see any one this evening.”

“Are you ill?” asked Gertrude with characteristic sternness.

“I don’t know; I simply do not want to see anybody,” said Eleanore, and smiled again as she had smiled in Diruf’s office.

It was Daniel, to be sure. Benda had told him that he had seen Eleanore out in front of the house; and when he learned that she had not been to call on Daniel, his anxiety increased. “There is something wrong here,” he said, “you had better go see her.” After they had talked the situation over for a while Benda accompanied Daniel as far as Ægydius Place, in order to make sure that he inquired after Eleanore.

Gertrude opened the iron door. “Eleanore does not want you to come in,” she said, with a trace of joy in her eyes.

“Why not? What has happened?”

“She does not wish to see you,” said the monosyllabic Gertrude, and gazed into the light of the hall lamp.

“Is she ill?”

“No!”

[94]

“Then she has got to tell me herself that she does not wish to see me.”

“Go!” commanded Gertrude and tossed her head back.

Her gloomy eyes hung on his, and the two stood there for a moment opposite each other, like two racers who have come in at the same goal at the same time but from opposite directions. Daniel then turned around, and went down the steps in silence. Gertrude remained standing for a time, her head sinking deeper and deeper all the while on her breast. Suddenly she covered her face with her hands; a cold shudder ran through her body.

XVI

Before going to bed, Eleanore wrote a letter to Herr Zittel informing him that she was leaving the Prudentia at once.

Lying in bed, she could not sleep. She saw herself on the ice cutting bold and novel figures. The spectators, grouped about her in a wide circle, admired her skill. She saw the sea with fishing smacks and coloured sails. She saw gardens full of roses.

Her father and Benno had come home long ago. She heard the bell up in the nearby church tower strike twelve—and then one—and then two.

She heard some one walking back and forth in the house; she heard some one opening and closing a door. Then the steps died away, and all was quiet. She got up, went to the door, and listened. A deep sigh reached her ear from the next room. She opened the door just a little, without making the slightest noise, and peeped out through the crack.

Gertrude was standing by the open window; she was in her night-gown and bare feet. The moon was shining on the square in front of the house; the glitter of the snow on the roofs made it seem quite cold. The spooky illumination made the girl’s face look spooky. Her loose flowing hair looked as black as ebony.

Eleanore ran into the room, and closed the window. “What on earth are you doing, Gertrude?” she exclaimed; “are you getting ready to take your life?”

Gertrude’s slender body shivered in the cold; her toes were all bent in as if she were having a convulsion. “Yes,” she said with marked moroseness, “that is what I would like to do.”

“That’s what you would like to do?” replied Eleanore, also trembling with cold. “And your father? Haven’t you the slightest consideration for him? Do you want to give him more worry [95]than he already has? What is the matter with you, you crazy girl?”

“I am a sinner, Eleanore,” cried Gertrude, fell on her knees, and clasped Eleanore about the hips. “I am a sinner.”

“Yes? A sinner? What sin, pray, have you committed?” asked Eleanore, and bent down over her.

“Why am I in that house there, in that prison?” cried Gertrude, and clasped her hands to her breast. “Evil has come over me, evil has taken possession of me. I have evil thoughts. Look at me, Eleanore, look at me!”

Her voice had now mounted to the pitch of a piercing shriek. Eleanore stepped back from her, terror-stricken. Gertrude fell head first on the floor. Her hair covered her bent and twitching back.

The door leading to Jordan’s room opened, and he himself came in carrying a lighted candle. In default of pajamas, he had thrown a chequered shawl around his shoulders, the fringes of which were dangling about his knees. He had a white-peaked night-cap on his head.

Quite beside himself, he looked at the two girls and wanted to say something; but he was speechless. When much worried he would always smirk. It was a disagreeable habit. In Eleanore it always aroused a feeling of intense compassion. “There is nothing wrong, father,” she stammered, and made an awkward gesture which indicated to him that it would be most agreeable to her if he would go away. “Gertrude has pains in her stomach; she tried to go to the medicine chest to get a few drops. Please go, father; I’ll put her to bed.”

“I will go to the doctor, or I will call Benno and have him go,” said Jordan.

“No, father, it is not necessary. Please go away!”

He appreciated Eleanore’s impatience and obediently withdrew, shielding the light of the candle with his hand; his gigantic shadow followed along behind him like some unclassified animal.

“Get up, Gertrude, get up and come with me!” said Eleanore.

Gertrude was taken back to her room. After she had been in bed for a few minutes, there was a knock at the door. It was Jordan; he asked how she felt. Eleanore told him everything was all right.

Until the moon had disappeared below the church roof, Eleanore sat on Gertrude’s bed, and held her mute hand in her own. Though she had thrown a cloak about her shoulders, she was cold. [96]Gertrude lay with open, lifeless eyes. Every movement of Eleanore’s face revealed the changing moods of her soul: she was thinking over an unending series of grave thoughts. When it became quite dark, Gertrude turned her face to Eleanore, and said softly: “Please get in bed with me, Eleanore. If I see you sleeping, possibly I can sleep too.”

Eleanore laid the cloak to one side, and slipped in under the covers. The two girls cuddled up to each other, and in a few minutes both were sound asleep.

[97]VOICES FROM WITHOUT AND VOICES FROM WITHIN

I

Daniel gradually gained followers. Those whom the “little slave” won over to his cause were hardly to be called patrons: they were patriots. They were delighted at the thought that a maestro should have been born and risen to fame in soulful old Franconia. In the actual life of their protégé they took but little interest.

Daniel’s followers were young people.

Professor Herold was a strange man. His reputation reached far beyond the boundaries of his native province, and yet, owing to his whimsical peculiarities, he had not the slightest desire to leave home. On such sons and daughters of the natives as were diligent in their pursuit of musical studies, he poured out the whole of his sarcasm. His chief, his darling ambition was to wean them away from their fondness for worthless music and clap-trap performances of it. He did not succeed: you were not considered educated unless you could play the piano, and in the homes of these merchants education was highly regarded.

Enticed by his name, all kinds of people came from a distance to take lessons from Professor Herold. Having read the score of “Vineta,” he said to two of these: “Fetch me that fellow dead or alive.” And they fetched him.

The two came more frequently to Daniel, and then others, pupils of Professors Wackerbarth and Döderlein. At times he would take luncheon with them in the students’ restaurant. We will call them the long-haired, or the pale-faced. Many of them looked like snake-charmers. They were almost without exception hopelessly stupid, but they all had some kind of a bee in their bonnet.

There were some young girls among them; we will call them the dreamy-eyed, or the lost-in-dreams. Daniel had no use for them whatsoever. His patience with the long-haired was equally lacking.

He told “the old man,” as Professor Herold was called, of his antipathy to these students. Professor Herold snapped like a [98]vicious dog, brushed the white bristles back over his enormous head, and said: “Well, my young original, you have made a discovery. Don’t you know that music cajoles into its magic circle the very riff-raff of any community? Don’t you know that music is a subterfuge for the neglect of human duty? Don’t you know that the voluptuous fumes it spreads over the cities results in the general corrosion and consumption of men’s hearts? Don’t you know that of every five hundred so-called artists, four hundred and ninety-nine are nothing but the cripple guard of God above? Therefore he who does not come to music with the holiest fire burning in the depths of his soul has his blood in time transformed by it into glue, his mind into a heap of rubbish.”

Whereat he pushed Daniel out of the door, so that he might work undisturbed on his little pictures. Of these the walls of his room were full. He painted them in his leisure hours. They were small in size, and smaller still in merit; but he was proud of them. They represented scenes from country life.

II

On New Year’s Eve, Dörmaul, the impresario, gave a dinner in the Little Swan, to which he invited Daniel. Dörmaul was quite well disposed toward Daniel. He said he had recognised the young man’s talents at the sight of his very first note. He promised to publish “Vineta” and also the work Daniel had finished in the meantime, entitled “Nuremberg Serenade.” He also seemed inclined to consider favourably Daniel’s appointment in his newly founded opera company.

Among those present at the dinner were Professors Herold and Wackerbarth, Wurzelmann, a few of the long-haired and a few of the lost-in-dreams. Andreas Döderlein had promised to come in later. He appeared, as a matter of fact, five minutes before midnight, and stood in the wide-opened door as ceremonious as the New Year itself.

He went up to Daniel, and extended him his right hand.

“Look who’s here! Our Benjamin and our John, not to mention our Daniel,” he said, glancing at the last of the trio. “Congratulations, my young star! What do the annals from Andreas Döderlein’s nose for news have to report? Back in Bayreuth, when we used to draw our wine by the flask, he merely had to sniffle around a bit to know just how things were. Isn’t that true, Benjamin?”

[99]

Nobody denied it. Benjamin let right yield to mercy. The mighty man removed his storm-cape from his shoulders as though it were ermine he were doffing before condescending to associate with ordinary mortals.

Professor Wackerbarth had a wife who beat him and gave him nothing to eat: he regarded this as a rare opportunity to eat his fill and have a good time generally. But it was a poor sort of a good time.

One of the long-haired sang the champagne song, and Wurzelmann made a witty speech. Döderlein suggested that now was the time to let the mice dance and the fleas hop. When one of the lost-in-dreams sang David’s March, which according to the rules of Bayreuth could not be classed as real music, Döderlein exclaimed: “Give me Lethe, my fair one.” By “Lethe” he meant punch.

Daniel drank Lethe too. He embraced old Herold, shook hands with Andreas Döderlein, and tried to waltz with Wurzelmann. He was not drunk; he was merely happy.

Then it became too close for him in the room. He took his hat, put on his overcoat, and hurried out.

The air was warm, mild. A south wind was blowing. Heaven above, heaven below, the houses were standing on clouds. One breath made him thirsty for the next one. There was a bay-window; it was so beautiful that he felt like kneeling before it. There was a fountain; it was so snug and exotic that it seemed like a poem. There were the arches of the bridge; in them was the dim reflection of the water. There were two towers; they were as delicate as a spider’s web.

He rejoiced and exclaimed: “Oh world, art thou real? Art thou my world, and am I living in thee? My world, my year, my time, and I in it all, I myself!”

III

He stood on Ægydius Place, and looked up at the windows in Jordan’s house. They were all dark.

He wanted to call out, but the name that was on his lips filled him with anxiety. The passionate flutter of his heart almost tore his breast asunder.

He had to do something; he had to speak; he had to ask questions and hear a human voice. Consequently, he hurried out to the Füll, stood under Benda’s window, and called Benda’s name. The clocks struck three.

[100]

The blinds were soon drawn to one side, and Benda’s stoutish figure appeared at the open window. “Daniel? Is it you? What’s up?”

“Nothing. I merely wanted to bring you New Year’s greetings.”

“Do you think you are bringing me something good? Go home and go to bed.”

“Ah, let me come in a little while, Friedrich. Let’s chat for a moment or two about happiness!”

“Be reasonable! We might frighten happiness away by our talk.”

“Philistine! Well, give me your blessing at least.”

“You have it. Now go, night owl, and let the people sleep.”

Another window opened on the ground floor. Herr Carovius’s desolate nocturnal physiognomy appeared at the window, looked up, looked down on the disturber of the peace on the street, and with one mighty grim, grinning sound on his lips, his revengeful fist swinging in the meanwhile, the indignant man closed the window with a bang.

Something impelled Daniel to return to Ægydius Place. Again he looked up at the windows, this time beseechingly. The storm within his heart became more violent. For a long time he ran through the streets, and reached home at last along toward five o’clock.

As he passed through the dark hall, he saw a light up on the landing. Meta was carrying it. She was already stirring about, ready to begin her morning’s work. He hesitated; he looked at her; with three steps he was by her side.

“So late?” she whispered with premonitory embarrassment, and began to finger her dress, which she had not yet buttoned up.

“Oh, what a joy to take hold of a living human being on this glorious day!” he exclaimed.

She offered some resistance, but when he tried to take her into her room, she bent her body backward, and thus pressed about his wrist. She was still carrying the light.

“Oh, if you only knew how I feel, Meta. I need you. Hold me tight in your arms.”

She made no more resistance. Perhaps she too was not without her fervent desire. Perhaps it was the time of day that made nature more insistent than usual. Perhaps she was suffering from loneliness in the company of the three sisters. It was still night and dark; but for her it was already day; it was the first day in the year, and she greeted it in festive mood. She yielded to him.

[101]

She was a virgin; she had no idea of the responsibility she was taking upon herself. Man had never been exactly a mystery to her, but now she felt for the first time the congenerous creature—and she gave in to him.

Daniel returned to earth after having knocked at the portals of the gods with tremendous wishes. The gods smiled their profoundest smile; for they had decided to have an especial fate arise from this hour.

IV

A meeting of the Social Democrats was being held in Gosten Court. They had met to discuss the Chancellor’s speech on accident insurance.

The first speaker was Deputy Störbecker. But his voice had no carrying power, and what he said died away almost unheard.

Jason Philip Schimmelweis followed him. He presented a fearful indictment of the government. The official representative of the government advised him to be more reserved, whereupon he reinvigorated himself with a draught of beer. Then he hurled the full beaker of that wrathful scorn for which his heart, beating for the people, was noted, at the head of the individual who was first and foremost responsible for the affairs of the Empire. He did not mention Bismarck by name; he spoke instead of a certain bogey. He snatched the halo from his head, swore that he would some day unmask him and show the people that he was a traitor, branded his fame as a tissue of lies, his deeds as the disgrace of the century.

The venomous and eloquent hatred of the pudgy little man inflamed the minds that drank in his oratory. Jason Philip was greeted with a tumult of applause as he took his seat. His face was a bright scarlet red.

The leaders of the party, however, were noticeably quiet. In a moment or two, Deputy Störbecker returned with two comrades eager to enter into a debate with Jason Philip. He followed them into a side room. Exalted at the thought that they had been delegated to express to him the gratitude of the party for his speech, he smiled the smile of vanity and caressed his beard with his fingers.

“What is the matter, gentlemen? Why are you so serious? Did I go too far? I assume complete responsibility for everything I said. But be calm! They are getting afraid of us. The air has a dubious odour. The French are becoming cantankerous again.”

[102]

“No, Comrade Schimmelweis, that is not it. You have got to vindicate yourself. You are a Proteus, Comrade Schimmelweis. Your right hand does not know what your left hand is doing. You are treating us disgracefully. You are ploughing in the widow’s garden. You preach water and guzzle wine. You have entered into a conspiracy with the grafters of the town. You are in collusion with the people down at the Prudentia, and you are filling your own coffers in this gigantic swindle. From morning to night you enrich yourself with the hard-earned pennies of the poor. That is sharp practice, Jason Philip Schimmelweis, sharp practice, we say. Now you have got to sever all connection with the Prudentia, or the Party is going to kick you out.”

Then it was that Jason Philip Schimmelweis rose to his true heights of eloquence. He insisted that his hands were clean, his left one and also his right one; that he was working in the interest of a good cause; and that threats could not intimidate him. He made it plain that he would bow to no dictatorship operating under the mask of equality and fraternity. He cried out that if the people wanted a scandal they could have it, but they would find him armed to the teeth. And he assured them that wherever he went in this wide, wide world, he would find the doors open to welcome him.

He then made a sudden about-face, and left his comrades standing. On the way home he continued to murmur murmurs of embitterment to himself.

Like a seasoned sailor eager to escape the storms of a raging sea, he steered his good ship toward other and more hospitable shores. Three days later he went to Baron Siegmund von Auffenberg, the leader of the Liberals, and offered him his services. He told him that he was willing to make any sacrifice for the great Liberal Party.

V

For thirty-five minutes, by his own watch, he cooled his heels in the ante-chamber. He made one caustic remark after another touching on the arrested development of the feeling of equality among the rich. Genuine rebel that he was, he did not repudiate himself even when he was practising high treason.

When he was finally taken into the office, he was not blinded in the slightest by the luxuriousness of the furniture, the rugs, or the oil paintings. He displayed not the remotest shimmer of [103]servility on meeting the illustrious Baron. He sat down on one of the chairs with complete equanimity, took no notice of the French-speaking parrot, and never cast a single glance at the breakfast table covered with appetising tid-bits. But he did present his case with all due straightforwardness and simplicity.

“Fine,” said the Baron, “fine! I hardly believe that you will find it necessary to make a radical change in your battlefront. A conscienceless agitator you have never been. You have a family, a home of your own; your affairs are in good condition; and in the bottom of your heart you love order and discipline. I have in truth been expecting you for a long while. Nor am I exaggerating when I confess to you that you had to bolt, sooner or later.”

Jason Philip blushed with satisfaction. With the bearing of a cabman who has just pocketed his tip, he replied: “I thank you very much, Baron.”

“On one point we are wholly agreed,” said the Baron, “and it seems to me to be the most important—”

“Quite right,” interrupted Jason Philip, “you allude to the fight against Bismarck. Yes, on this point we are, I hope, of precisely the same opinion. I will do my part. Hand and heart on it, Baron. I could look with perfectly cold blood on this knight of obscurantism writhing on the rack.”

Herr von Auffenberg heard this temperamental statement with noticeably tenuous reassurance. He smiled just a little, and then said: “Wait a minute, my friend, don’t be quite so savage.” He reached for his smelling salts, held them to his nose, and closed his eyes. Then he got up, folded his hands across his back, and walked up and down the room a few times.

What he said after this was as familiar to him as the letters of the alphabet. While Jason Philip gaped at his lips in dumb inspiration, the Baron himself thought of things that had not the remotest connection with what he said.

“The very same man who tried to make the new Empire inhabitable, with the aid of a liberal code of laws, and who brought the long-drawn-out quarrel between the Emperor and the Pope to a happy conclusion, is now trying, by word, thought, and deed, gradually to destroy all liberal traditions and to proclaim the Roman High Priest as the real creator of peace. All that the German Chancellor could do to give the final blow to liberalism he has done. The reaction has not hesitated to abandon the idea of the Kulturkampf and to work instead in the interests of class hatred [104]and racial prejudice, nurturing them even with deeds of violence. Faced with the crimes they themselves have committed, they will see their own children despised and rejected.”

Dépêche-toi, mon bon garçon,” screeched the parrot.

“I am happy at the thought of having snatched a precious booty from the claws of anarchy, and of having won a new citizen for the State, my dear Herr Schimmelweis. But for the time being it will be advisable for you to keep somewhat in the background. They will be inclined to make your change of political conviction the subject of vociferous attacks, and that might injure the cause.”

VI

What was the old Baron really thinking about while he delivered this political speech?

There was just one thought in his mind; the same sullen, concealed anger gnawed incessantly at his heart.

He thought incessantly of his son, of the contempt which he had experienced because of him, and was still experiencing daily, even hourly, because of the fact that Eberhard had withdrawn from his power, had repudiated him.

He could not get over the fact that he had heaped up millions, and that Eberhard, so far as it was humanly possible to calculate—and in accordance with the law—would some day fall heir to a part of these millions. He knew very little about poverty; but his poisoned mind could think of nothing else than the satisfaction he would derive from being able, somehow, to deliver this abortive scion of his own name and blood over to poverty. Thus did he wish to take vengeance; thus would he punish.

But it was impossible for him to wreak vengeance on his son as he would have liked to: between the execution of the punishment and himself stood the law. The very thought that his riches were increasing daily, hourly, that the millions he had were creating new millions without his moving a finger, that he could not even stop the flood if he wished to, and that consequently the share of this disloyal, rebellious, and hateful son was becoming larger daily, even hourly—this thought he could not endure. It poisoned his peace of mind, paralysed his powers, robbed him of all natural and legitimate joy, and enveloped his days in a cloud of despair.

A modern Midas, he transformed everything he touched into gold; and the more gold he had the sadder his life became, the more revengeful his soul.

[105]

The tones of a piano reached his ear; it was his wife who was playing. She played Mendelssohn’s “Song Without Words.” He shook with disgust; for of all things repulsive, music was to him the most repulsive.

Dépêche-toi, mon bon garçon,” screeched the parrot.

VII

During Jason Philip’s absence, poorly dressed people frequently came to the shop and demanded that Theresa give them back the money they had paid in on their insurance.

Some of them became very much excited when Theresa told them that she would do nothing of the kind, that the insurance was the affair of her husband, and that she had nothing whatever to do with it. A locksmith’s apprentice had given a sound thrashing to Zwanziger, the clerk, who had hastened up to protect the wife of his employer. A gold-beater from Fürth had created so much excitement that the police had to be called in. A cooper’s widow, who had managed to pay her premiums for one year, but had been unable to continue the payment for the quite sufficient reason that she had been in the hospital, fell headlong to the floor in epileptic convulsions when she heard how matters stood.

It finally reached the point where Theresa was frightened every time she saw a strange face. She breathed more easily when a day had passed without some disagreeable scene, but trembled at the thought of what might happen on the day to come.

What disturbed her more than anything else was the inexplicable disappearance of small sums of money; this had been going on for some time. A man came into the office once and laid his monthly premium, one taler in all, on the counter. When he left, Theresa closed the door behind him in order that she might be able to watch the snow storm from the window. When she returned to the desk the taler had disappeared. She asked where it was. Jason Philip, who was just then handing some books up the ladder to Zwanziger, became so gruff that one might have thought she had accused him of the theft. She counted the money over in the till, but in vain; the taler had vanished.

She had forgotten, or had not noticed, that Philippina had been in the office. She had brought her father his evening sandwiches, and then gone out again without making the slightest noise; she wore felt shoes.

On another occasion she missed a number of groschen from her [106]purse. On still another, a spice merchant came in and demanded that she pay a bill of three marks. She was certain she had already paid it; she was certain she had given Philippina the money to pay it. Philippina was called in. She, however, denied having anything to do with it, and acted with such self-assurance that Theresa, completely puzzled, reached down in her pocket and handed over the three marks in perfect silence.

She had suspected the maid, she had suspected the clerk. She even suspected Jason Philip himself; she thought that he was appropriating money to pay his drinking expenses. And she suspected Philippina. But in no case could she produce the evidence; her spying and investigating were in vain. Then the thieving stopped again.

For Philippina, who had been doing all the stealing, feared she might be discovered, and adopted a less hazardous method of making herself a rich woman: she stole books, and sold them to the second-hand dealer. She was sly enough to take books that had been on the shelves for a long while, and not to do all her business with one dealer: she would go first to one and then to another.

The money which she scraped together in this way, as secretly and greedily as a jack-daw, she hid in the attic. There was a loose brick in the wall near the chimney. This she removed; and in time she removed other bricks. And once her treasures were safely stored in the hole, she would replace the bricks and set a board up against them.

When everything had become perfectly quiet and she felt wholly at ease, she would sit down, fold her hands, and give herself up to speechless meditation, an evil and fanatic dream playing over her features as she did.

VIII

One evening in February, Theresa and Philippina chanced to be sitting by the lamp mending the week’s wash. Jason Philip entered the room; there was a sheepish expression on his face; he rubbed his hands.

Since Theresa did not consider it worth her trouble to ask him why he was in such a good humour, he suddenly laughed out loud and said: “Now we can pack up, my dear. I see it in writing: The wonder of the age, or the humiliated relatives. A touching tableau presented by Herr Daniel Nothafft of the Schimmelweis family.”

[107]

“I do not understand you; you are talking like a harlequin again,” said Theresa.

“Compositions by Daniel are going to be played in a public concert,” Philippina informed her mother with that old, harsh voice of hers.

“How do you know?” asked Theresa, in a tone of evident distrust.

“I read it in the paper.”

“The miracle is to take place in the Harmony Society,” said Jason Philip, by way of confirming Philippina’s remark, with an expression of enigmatic malevolence. “There is to be a public rehearsal on Thursday, and there is nothing on earth that can keep me away. The music dealer, Zierfuss, has given me two tickets, and if you want to, why, you can come along and see how they make a local hero out of a plain loafer.”

“I?” responded Theresa, in a tone of contemptuous amazement, “not one step will I take. What have I got to do with your imbecile concerts?”

“But these gentlemen are going to be disillusioned, terribly so,” continued Jason Philip in a threatening tone. “There is still a certain amount of common sense left, just as there are means of proceeding against a common, ordinary swindler.”

Philippina raised her head in the mood of a person who has come to a sudden decision: “C’n I go ’long, Pop?” she asked, her ears as red as fire.

It was more than a request. Jason Philip was startled at the intractable expression on the girl’s face. “Sure,” he said, avoiding as well as he could the mute opposition on the part of Theresa, “but take a whistle along so that you can make cat calls.”

He sank back with a comfortable sigh on his chair, and stretched out his legs. Philippina knelt down and took off his boots. He then put on his slippers. Each of them bore a motto embroidered in red. On the left one were the words “For tired father”; on the right one, “Consolation.”

IX

Eleanore had not told her father why she had left her position with Alfons Diruf. Nor did Jordan ask her why when he learned that she did not wish to speak about it. He suspected that there was some disagreeable incident back of it, and if he maintained a strict silence it was because he feared his own wrath and grief.

[108]

She soon found another position. A schoolmate and good friend of hers, Martha Degen, the daughter of the pastry-baker, had married Herr Rübsam, a notary public and an old man to boot. Eleanore visited the Rübsams occasionally, as did also her father; and in the course of conversation it came out that Herr Rübsam needed an assistant copyist. Since it was then impossible to give Eleanore a desk in the office, she was allowed to do all her work at home.

Friedrich Benda had also given her a cordial letter of recommendation to Herr Bock, Counsellor of Archives, who was just then engaged in writing a voluminous work on the history of Nuremberg. It would be her task to arrange Herr Bock’s muddled manuscript.

It was a laborious undertaking, but she learned a great deal from it. Her thirsty mind would draw nourishment even from dry and lifeless subjects.

She was seized with a desire to fill up the gaps in her education. She begged Benda first for this book and then for that one. And after having written the whole day long, she would often sit down and read until late at night.

Everything she came in contact with she either assimilated or shook off: she dragged nothing along in the form of surface impedimenta; it became a part of her being, or she threw it to one side.

Daniel had not called for a long while. He was busy with the rehearsals which Wurzelmann was conducting. Professor Döderlein was not to take charge of the orchestra until it had been thoroughly drilled. The programme was to consist of Daniel’s works and the “Leonore Overture.” Wurzelmann referred to the Beethoven number as “a good third horse in the team.”

Daniel also had a lot of business to transact with the impresario Dörmaul: the company was to go on the road in March, and many things had to be attended to. The contract he signed was for three years at a salary of six hundred marks a year.

A few days before the public rehearsal he came to Jordan’s with three tickets: one for Jordan himself and the other two for the sisters. The public rehearsal was quite like a regular concert; over a hundred persons had been invited.

Jordan was just getting ready to go out. “That is fine, that is great: I can hear some more music now. I am looking forward to the concert with extreme pleasure. When I was a young fellow I rarely missed a concert. But that was long ago; indeed, [109]when I think it over I see how old I am. The years pass by like milestones on the highway of life. Well, Daniel, I thank you, thank you very much!”

Eleanore’s joy was also great. As soon as her father had gone, she remarked that Daniel had looked for Gertrude; but she had left the room as soon as she saw him coming. Eleanore opened the door, and cried: “Gertrude, come in, right away! I have a surprise for you.”

After a while Gertrude came in.

“A ticket for you to Daniel’s concert,” said Eleanore, radiant with joy, and handed her the green card of admission.

Gertrude looked at Eleanore; and she wanted to look at Daniel. But her heavy glance, slowly rising from the floor, barely reached his face before it returned to its downward position, aggrieved and pained. Then she shook her head, and said: “A ticket for the concert? For me? Are you serious, Eleanore?” Again she shook her head, amazed and indignant. Whereupon she went to the window, leaned her arm against the cross bars, and pressed her head against her arm.

Daniel followed her with looks of glowing anger. “You can take sheep to the slaughter,” he said, “you can throw thieves in a dungeon, you can transport lepers to a hospital for incurables, but you cannot force an emotional girl to listen to music.”

He became silent; a pause ensued. Tortured at the thought that Daniel’s eyes were riveted on her back, Gertrude turned around, went to the stove, sat down, and pressed her cheek against the Dutch tiles.

Daniel took two steps, stood by her side, and exclaimed: “But suppose I request that you go? Suppose my peace of mind or something else of importance to the world, consolation, liberation, or improvement, depends on your going? Suppose I request that you go for one of these reasons? What then?”

Gertrude had become as pale as death. She looked at him for a moment, then turned her face to one side, drew up her shoulders as if she were shivering with cold, and said: “Well—then—then—I’ll go. But I will be sorry for it ... sorry for it.”

Eleanore was a witness to this scene. Her eyes, wide open when it began, grew larger and larger as it advanced through its successive stages. As she looked at Daniel a kindly, languishing moisture came to them, and she smiled.

Daniel, however, had become vexed. He mumbled a good-bye and left. Eleanore went to the window and watched him [110]as he ran across the square, holding his hat with both hands as a shield against the driving wind.

“He is an amusing fellow,” she said, “an amusing fellow.”

She then lifted her eyes to the clouds, whose swift flight above the church roof pleased her.

X

It was the original intention to begin the regular evening concert with the third “Fidelio Overture.” Döderlein was of the opinion that it offered no special difficulties: the general rehearsal was to be devoted primarily to the works of the novice. He raised his baton, and silence filled the auditorium.

The “Nuremberg Serenade” opened with ensemble playing of the wind instruments. It was a jovial, virile theme which the violins took up after the wind instruments, plucked it to pieces in their capricious way, and gradually led it over into the realm of dreams. The night became living: a gentle summer wind blew, glow worms flitted about, Gothic towers stood out in the sultry darkness, plebeian figures crept into the narrow, angular alleys; it was night in Nuremberg. The acclamation a glorious past with an admonition to the future fell upon the smug complacency of the present, the heroic mingled with the jocose, the fantastic with the burlesque, romanticism found its counterpart, and all this was achieved through a flood of genuine melody in which stodginess played no part, while charm was abundant in every turn and tune.

The professional musicians were astonished; and their astonishment was vigorously expressed in their criticisms. The general admiration, to be sure, was somewhat deafened by the unpleasant end that the rehearsal was destined to come to; but one critic, who enjoyed complete independence of soul, though an unfortunate incident in his life had compelled him to relinquish his influential circle in the city and retire to a limited sphere of activity in the province, wrote: “This artist has the unquestioned ability to become the light and leader of his generation. Nature created him, his star developed him. May Heaven give him the power and patience indispensable to the artist, if he would be born again and become a man above the gifts of men. If he only does not reach out too soon for the ripe fruits, and, intoxicated by the allurements of the lower passions, fail to hear the voice of his heart! He has taken a lofty flight; the azure gates of renown have swung [111]wide open to him. Let him only be cautious about his second descent into the night.”

The same connoisseur found the composition of “Vineta” less ingenious, and its instrumentation suffering from the lean experience of a beginner. Yet even this work was strongly applauded. The impresario Dörmaul clapped his hands until the perspiration poured from his face. Wurzelmann was beside himself with enthusiasm. Old Herold smiled all over his face. The long-haired found it of course quite difficult to subdue their jealousy, but even they were not stingy with their recognition.

But how did Herr Carovius feel? His spittle had a bitter taste, his body pained him. When Andreas Döderlein turned to the audience and bowed, Carovius laughed a laugh of tremendous contempt. And Jason Philip Schimmelweis? He would have felt much more comfortable if the hand-clapping had been so much ear-boxing, and Daniel Nothafft, the culprit, had been the objective. The boy who had been cast out had become the leader of men! Jason Philip put his hand to his forehead, shook his head, and was on the point of exclaiming, “Oh, ye deceivers and deceived! Listen, listen! I know the boy; I know the man who has made fools of you here this evening!” He waited to see whether the misunderstanding, the colossal swindle, would not be cleared up automatically. He did not wait in vain.

At the close of the “Serenade,” Jordan was struck by Gertrude’s feverish paleness. He asked her whether she felt ill, but received no reply. During the performance of the second piece she kept putting her hands to her bosom, as if she were suffering from repressed convulsions. Her eyes were now lifeless, now glowing with an uncanny fire. As soon as the piece was finished, she turned to her father and asked him to take her home. Jordan was frightened. Those sitting next to him looked at the girl’s pale face, sympathised with her, and made conventional remarks. Eleanore wanted to go home too, but Gertrude whispered to her in her imperious way and told her to stay. Familiar as she was with Gertrude’s disposition, she thought that it was simply a passing attack of some kind, and regained her composure.

Daniel was standing at the door, talking to Benda and Wurzelmann. He was very much excited; his two companions were trying to appease his embitterment against Andreas Döderlein. “Ah, the man doesn’t know a thing about his profession,” he exclaimed, and scorned all attempts to effect a reconciliation between him and the leader of the orchestra. “What is left of my compositions [112]is debris only. He drags the time, never even tries to make a legatura, scorns a piano every time he comes to one, pays no attention to crescendos, never retards—it is terrible! My works cannot be played in public like that!”

Gertrude and her father passed by quickly and without greeting. Daniel was stupefied. The lifeless expression in Gertrude’s face unnerved him. He felt as if he had been struck by a hammer, as if his own fate were inseparably connected with that of the girl. Her step, her eyes, her mouth were, he felt, a part of his own being. And the fact that she passed by without even speaking to him, cold, reserved, hostile, filled him with such intense anger that from then on he was not accountable for what he did.

The flood of melody in Beethoven’s great work was on the point of pouring forth from the orchestra in all its exalted ruggedness. What happened? There came forth instead a confused, noisy clash and clatter. Daniel was seized with violent restlessness. It was hard enough to see his own works bungled; to see this creation with its delicate soul and titanic power, a work which he knew as he knew few things on this earth, torn to tatters and bungled all around was more than he could stand. The trumpet solo did not sound as though it came from some distant land of fairy spirits: it was manifestly at the people’s feet and it was flat. He began to tremble. When the calm melancholy andante, completely robbed of all measure and proportion by the unskilled hand of the leader and made to dissipate in senseless sounds, reached his ear, he was beside himself. He rushed on to the platform, seized the arm of the conductor with his icy fingers, and shouted: “That is enough! That is no way to treat a divine creation!”

The people rose in their seats. The instruments suddenly became silent, with the exception of a cello which still whimpered from the corner. Andreas Döderlein bounded back, looked at the mad man, his mouth as wide as he could open it, laid the baton on the desk, and stammered: “By Jupiter, this is unheard of!” The musicians left their places and grouped themselves around the strange man; the tumult in the public grew worse and worse. They asked questions, threatened, tried to set each other at ease, scolded and raged. In the meantime Daniel Nothafft, his head bowed, his back bent, stood there on the platform, glowing with anger and determined to have his revenge.

A few minutes later, Andreas Döderlein was sitting at the table in the musicians’ waiting room. He looked like Emperor Barbarossa [113]in Kyffhäuser. He had well founded reason to express his contempt for the decadence and impiety of the youth of to-day. It was superfluous for him to remark that a man who would conduct himself as Daniel had done should be eliminated from the ranks of those who lay claim to the help and consideration of sane people. The dignified gentlemen of the Orchestral Union were of the same opinion; you could search the annals of history from the beginning of time, and you would never find a case like this. Mild eyes flashed, grey beards wagged. The deliberation was brief, the sentence just. A committee waited on Daniel to inform him that his compositions had been struck from the programme. The news spread like wild-fire.

Who was happier than Jason Philip Schimmelweis?

He was like a man who gets up from the table with a full stomach, after having sat down at it fearing lest he starve to death. On his way home he whistled and laughed alternately and with well balanced proportion.

“There you see it again,” he said to his daughter, as she walked along at his side, “you see it again: you cannot get blood from a turnip any more than you can get happiness from misery. A jackass remains a jackass, a culprit a culprit, and loafing never fails to bring the loafer to a disgraceful end. The Devil has a short but nimble tail; and it makes no difference how slovenly he may conduct his business, his recruits have got to pay the piper in the end. This will be a windfall for mother. Let’s hurry so that we can serve it to her while it’s still hot!”

And Philippina—she had never taken her eyes off the floor the entire evening—seemed to be utterly unconscious of the fact at present that she was surrounded by houses and people. She was a defeated woman; she wanted to be. She had much to conceal; her young breast was a hell of emotions, but her ugly, gloomy old face was as inanimate and empty as a stone.

Herr Carovius waited at the gate. After all the other people had gone, Daniel, Benda, Wurzelmann, and Eleanore came along. Daniel’s storm cape fluttered in the wind; his hat was drawn down over his eyes. Herr Carovius stepped up before him.

“A heroic deed, my dear Nothafft,” he miauled. “I could embrace you. From this time on you can count me among your friends. Now stand still, you human being transformed into a hurricane. I must say of course that so far as your music is concerned, I am not with you. There is too much hullaballoo in it, and not enough plain hellishness to suit me. But rid this country of the whole [114]tribe of Döderleins, and you will find that I am your man. Not that I would invite you to take dinner with me, so that you could have me make you a loan, not on your life. I am only a poor musician myself. But otherwise I am at your service. I hope you sleep well to-night—and get the hullaballoo out of your music just as soon as you can.”

He tittered, and then scampered away. Daniel looked at him with a feeling of astonishment. Wurzelmann laughed, and said he had never seen such a queer codger in all his life. All four stood there for a while, not knowing exactly what to think, and in the meantime it was snowing and raining. Asked by Benda where he wished to go, Daniel said he was going home. But what could he do at home? Why couldn’t he go home with Benda? “No,” said Daniel, “I can’t do that: I am a burden to every one to-day, including myself. Say, little servant, how are you feeling?” he said, turning to Wurzelmann, “how about a drink or two?”

Wurzelmann, somewhat embarrassed, said that he had an engagement. There was something repulsive in the way he declined the invitation.

“Ah, you, with your old engagement,” said Daniel, “I don’t give a hang where you are going; I am going along.”

“No, you’re not, Daniel,” cried Eleanore. And when Daniel looked at her in astonishment, she blushed and continued: “You are not going with him; he is going to see some women!”

The three young men laughed, and in her confusion Eleanore laughed too.

“How tragic you are, little Eleanore,” said Daniel in a tone of unusual flippancy, “what do you want me to do? Do you think that Wurzelmann and I are just alike when it comes to an evening’s amusement? Do you think the earth claims me as soon as I see a tear?”

“Let him go,” whispered Benda to the girl, “he is right. Don’t bring an artificial light into this darkness; it serves his purpose; let him do with it as he pleases.”

Eleanore looked at Benda with wide-opened eyes. “Darkness? What do you mean? The fire then was merely a will-o’-the-wisp,” she said, her eyes shining with pride, “I see him full of light.” Daniel had heard what she said. “Really, Eleanore?” he asked with greedy curiosity.

She nodded: “Really, Daniel.”

“For that you can have anything you want from me.”

“Well then I beg you and Benda to come over to our house. [115]Father will be delighted to see you, and we will have something to eat.”

“Fine. That sounds good to me. Addio, Wurzelmann, and remember me to the girls. You are coming along, aren’t you, Friedrich?”

Benda first made a few polite remarks, and then said he would accept.

“You liked it then, did you, Eleanore?” asked Daniel, as they walked along the street.

Eleanore was silent. To Daniel her silence was moving. But he soon forgot the impression it made on him; and it was a long, long while, indeed even years, before he recalled this scene.

XI

Jordan had taken Gertrude home. He was very careful not to ask her any questions that would cause her pain. On reaching the house he lighted a lamp and helped her take off her cloak.

“How do you feel?” he asked in a kindly tone, “are you better?”

Gertrude turned to one side, and sat down on a chair.

“Well, we’ll drink a cup of hot tea,” continued the old man; “then my child will go to bed, and to-morrow morning she will be all right again. Yes?”

Gertrude got up. “Father,” she sighed, and felt around for the tea table as a means of support.

“Gertrude, what is the matter?” cried Jordan in dismay.

She moved the upper part of her body in her characteristic way—as though it were limp and she were trying to drag it along with her—and a faint smile came over her face. All of a sudden she burst out crying and ran to her room. Jordan heard her bolt the door, looked anxiously before him, waited a moment or two, and then crept up to her door on his tiptoes.

He placed his hands under his chin and listened. Gertrude was crying. It was an even and touching cry, not so much filled with grief as her sobs generally were, and seemed to be expiratory rather than the reverse.

As Jordan let the lonely, unhappy, and impenetrable life of his daughter pass by him in mental review, he became painfully aware of the fact that this was the first time in her life that she had ever heard real music. “Is it possible?” he asked. He tried to think of another time that would make him disbelieve the accuracy of his unpleasant observation.

[116]

He said to himself: Her case is simple; the hitherto unknown sweetness and power concealed in the ensemble playing of the violins, the euphony of the orchestra, and the beauty of the melody with all its fateful directness has made the same impression on her that the sunlight makes on a person from whose eyes a cataract has just been removed. Her soul has suffered from hunger; that is where the trouble lies. She has struggled too fiercely with the incomprehensible and the intangible.

His instinct of love told him that the best thing to do was to let her cry. It will do her good; it will relieve her soul. He pulled a chair up to her door, sat down, and listened. When he could no longer hear her crying, his heart grew easier.

XII

Eleanore was right. Her father was quite pleased to see Daniel and Benda. “I am proud of you,” he said to Daniel, “and for your visit to me I thank you. I feel flattered.”

“If you had stayed a half hour longer, you might feel differently about it,” replied Daniel.

Eleanore gave her father a brief account of what had taken place at the concert. Jordan listened attentively, looked at Daniel, and, with a wrinkle on his forehead, said, “Is it possible?”

“Yes, it is possible; it had to happen,” said Daniel.

“Well, if it had to happen, it is a good thing that it is over,” was the dispassionate response.

Eleanore took her father’s hand; the back of it was covered with big yellow spots; she kissed it. Then she set the table, got everything ready for the meal, went in and out of the room in a most cheerful way, and did not forget to put the water on the stove to boil. She had asked about Gertrude as soon as she came home, but for some reason or other her father seemed disinclined to say anything on the subject, from which Eleanore inferred that there was nothing seriously wrong.

Finally they sat down at the table. Eleanore was quite pleased to see the three men whom she liked so much gathered together in this way. There was a feeling of gratitude in her heart toward each one of them. But she was also hungry: she ate four sandwiches, one right after the other. When she saw that Daniel was not eating, she stepped up behind his chair, bent over him so far that the loose flowing hair from her temples tickled his face, and said: “Are you embarrassed? Or don’t you like the way the [117]sausages have been prepared? Would you like something else?”

Daniel evaded the questions; he was out of sorts. And yet in the bottom of his heart the contact with the girl made a pleasing impression on him; it was in truth almost a saving impression. For his thoughts continually and obstinately returned to the girl who had fled, and whose presence he missed without exactly wishing that she were at the table with the others.

Benda spoke of the political changes that might, he feared, take place because of the death of Gambetta. Jordan, who always took a warm interest in the affairs of the Fatherland, made a number of true and humane remarks about the tense feeling then existing between France and Germany, whereupon the door to Gertrude’s room opened and Gertrude herself stood on the threshold.

Deep silence filled the room; they all looked at her.

Strangely enough, she was not wearing the dress she had on at the concert. She had put on the Nile green dress, the one in which Daniel saw her for the first time. Jordan and Eleanore hardly noticed the change; they were too much absorbed in the expression on the girl’s face. Daniel was also astonished; he could not look away.

Her expression had become softer, freer, brighter. The unrest in which her face had heretofore been clouded had disappeared. Even the outlines of her face seemed to have changed: the arch of her eyebrows was higher, the oval of her cheeks more delicate.

She leaned against the door; she even leaned her head against the door. Her left hand, hanging at her side, seemed indolent, limp, indifferent. Her right hand was pressed against her bosom. Standing in this position, she studied the faces of those who were sitting at the table, while a timid and gentle smile played about her lips.

Jordan’s first suspicion was that she had lost her mind. He sprang up, and hastened over to her. But she gave him her hand, and offered no resistance at all to being led over to the table.

Suddenly she fixed her silent gaze on Daniel. He got up involuntarily, and seized the back of his chair. His colour changed; he distorted the corners of his mouth; he was nervous. But when Gertrude withdrew her hand from her father’s and extended it to him, and when he took it and his eye met hers—he could not help but look at her—his solicitude vanished. For what he read in her eyes was an unreserved and irrevocable capitulation of her whole self, and Daniel was the victor. His face grew gentle, grateful, dreamy, and resplendent.

[118]

It was not merely the sensuous charm revealed in the feeling which Gertrude betrayed that moved him: it was the fact that she came as she had come, a penitent and a convert. The sublime conviction that he had been able to transform a soul and awaken it to new life touched him deeply.

This it was that drew him to Gertrude more than her countenance, her expression, and her body combined. And now he saw all three—her countenance, her expression, and her body.

Jordan had a foreboding of something. He felt that he would have to take the girl in his arms and flee with her. Pictures of future misfortune crowded upon his imagination; the hope he had cherished for Gertrude was crushed to the earth.

Benda stared at his plate in silence. Nevertheless, just as if he had other eyes than those with which he saw earthly things, he noticed that Eleanore’s hands and lips were trembling, that with each succeeding second she grew paler, that she cast a distrustful glance first at her father, then at her sister, and then at Daniel, and that she finally, as if overcome with a feeling of exhaustion, slipped away from her place by the table lamp, stole into a corner, and sat down on the hassock.

But after they had all resumed their seats at the table, Gertrude sitting between Benda and her father, Eleanore came up and sat down next to Daniel. She never took her eyes off Gertrude; she looked at her in breathless surprise, Gertrude smiled as she had smiled when leaning against the door, timidly and passionately.

From that moment on, the conversation lagged, Benda suggested to his friend that it was time for them to leave. They thanked Jordan for his hospitality and departed. Jordan accompanied them down the stairs and unlocked the front door. When he returned, Eleanore was just going to her room: “Well, Eleanore, are you not going to say good-night?” he called after her.

She turned around, nodded conventionally, and closed the door.

Gertrude was still sitting at the table. Jordan was walking up and down the room. Suddenly she sprang up, stepped in his way, forced him to stop, threw her arms about his neck, and kissed him on the forehead. She had never done that before.

She too had gone to sleep. Jordan felt terribly alone. He heard the street door open and close; he heard some one enter. It was Benno. Jordan thought that his son would come in, for he must have seen the light through the crack of the door. But Benno evidently had no desire to see his father. He went to his room at [119]the other end of the hall, and closed the door behind him just as if he were a servant.

“They are all three in bed,” thought Jordan to himself, “and what do I know about them?”

He shook his head, removed the hanging lamp from its frame, and locked the room, holding the lamp very carefully as he did so.

XIII

Eleanore had not seen Eberhard von Auffenberg for a number of weeks. He wrote her a card, asking for the privilege of meeting her somewhere. The place in fact was always the same—the bridge at the gate to the Zoölogical Garden. Immediately after sunset she betook herself to that point. It was a warm March evening; there was not a breath of wind; the sky was covered with clouds.

They strolled up the castle hill, and when they had reached the parapet, Eleanore said, gently laughing: “Now listen, I have talked enough; you say something.”

“It is so pleasant to be silent with you,” replied Eberhard in a downcast mood.

Filled with a disagreeable premonition, Eleanore sought out one of the many hundreds of lights dimly flickering down in the city, fixed her eyes on it, and stubbornly refused to look at any other earthly object.

“If I appeal to you at this hour,” the young Baron finally began, “it is to a certain extent exactly as if I were appealing to the Supreme Court. My expectations in life have, with one single exception, been utterly and irrevocably crushed. It depends quite upon you, Eleanore, whether I am to become and remain a useless parasite of human society, or a man who has firmly decided to pay for his share of happiness by an equal amount of honest work. I offer you everything I have. It is not much, but I offer it to you without haggling and forever. You and you alone can save me. That is what I wanted to say to you.”

He looked up at the clouds, leaning on his cane, which he had placed behind his back.

“I have forbidden you to speak of this,” whispered Eleanore in profound dismay, “and you promised me that you would not say anything about it.”

“I gave you my promise because I loved you; I break it for the same reason,” replied Eberhard. “I feel that such a promise is [120]the act of a foolish child, when the building up or the tearing down of a human life depends upon it. If you are of a different opinion, I can only beg your pardon. Probably I have been mistaken.”

Eleanore shook her head; she was grieved.

“It was my plan to go to England with you, and there we would be married,” continued Eberhard. “It is quite impossible for me to get married here: I loathe this city. It is impossible, because if I did my people would in all probability set up some claims to which they are no longer entitled and for which I would fight. The mere thought of doing this repels me. And it is also impossible because ...” at this he stopped and bit his lips.

Eleanore looked at him; she was filled with curiosity. His pedantic enumeration of the various hindrances as well as the romanticism of his plans amused her. When she detected the expression of downright grief in his face, she felt sorry for him. She came one step nearer to him; he took her hand, bowed, and pressed his lips to her fingers. She jerked her hand back.

“Fatal circumstances have placed me in a most humiliating situation; if I am not to succumb to them, I must shake them off at once,” said Eberhard anxiously. “I was inexperienced; I have been deceived. There is a person connected with my case who hardly deserves the name of a human being; he is a monster in the garb of an honest citizen. I have not the faintest idea what I am to do next, Eleanore. I must leave at once. In a strange country I may regain my strength and mental clearness. With you I could defy the universe. Believe in me, have confidence in me!”

Eleanore let her head sink. The despair of this usually reserved man touched her heart. Her mouth twitched as she sought for words.

“I cannot get married, Eberhard,” she said, “really, I cannot. I did not entice you to me; you dare not reproach me. I have tried to make my attitude toward you perfectly clear from the very first time I met you. I cannot get married; I cannot.”

For five or six minutes there was a silence that was interrupted only by human voices in the distance and the sound of carriages from the streets down in the city. In the compassion that Eleanore after all felt for Eberhard she sensed the harshness of her unqualified refusal. She looked at him courageously, firmly, and said: “It is not obstinacy on my part, Eberhard; nor is it stupid anxiety, nor [121]imagination, nor lack of respect. Truth to tell I have a very high opinion of you. But there must be something quite unnatural about me, for you see that I loathe the very idea of getting married. I detest the thought of living with a man. I like you, but when you touch me as you did a little while ago when you kissed my hand, a shudder runs through my whole body.”

Eberhard looked at her in astonishment; he was morose, too.

She continued: “It has been in me since my childhood; perhaps I was born with it, just as other people are born with a physical defect. It may be that I have been this way ever since a certain day in my life. It was an autumn evening in Pappenheim, where my aunt then lived. My sister Gertrude and I were walking in a great fruit garden; we came to a thorn hedge, and sitting by the hedge was an old woman. My father and mother were far away, and the old woman said to my sister, then about seven: Be on your guard against everything that sings and rings. To me she said: Be careful never to have a child. The next day the woman was found dead under the hedge. She was over ninety years old, and for more than fifty years she had peddled herbs in Altmühltal. I naturally had not the vaguest idea what she meant at the time by ‘having a child,’ but her remark stuck in my heart like an arrow. It grew up with me; it became a part of me. And when I learned what it meant, it was a picture by the side of the picture of death. Now you must not think that I have gone through life thus far filled with a feeling of despicable fear. Not at all. I simply have no desires. The idea does not attract me. If it ever does, many questions will I ask about life and death! I will laugh at the old woman under the hedge and do what I must.”

As she spoke these last words, her face took on a strangely chaste and fanciful expression. Eberhard could not take his eyes from her. “Ah, there are after all fairy creatures on this flat, stale, and unprofitable earth,” he thought, “enchanted princesses, mysterious Melusinas.” He smiled somewhat distrustfully—as a matter of habit. But from this moment his frank, open, wooing attachment to the girl was transformed into a consuming passion.

He was proud, and man enough to subdue his feelings. But he yearned more than ever, and was tortured by his yearnings to know something more than the vague knowledge he had at present about that glass case, that spirit-chest in which, so near and yet so far, this lovely creature lived, impervious to the touch of mortal hands and immune to the flames of love.

[122]

“You are rejecting me, then?” he asked.

“Well, it is at least advisable that for the time being we avoid each other’s presence.”

“Advisable for me, you think. And for the time being? How am I to interpret that?”

“Well, let us say for five years.”

“Why exactly five years? Why not twenty? Why not fifty? It would be all the same.”

“It seems to me that five years is just the right amount of time, Eberhard.”

“Five years! Each year has twelve times thirty, fifty-two times seven days. Why, the arithmetic of it is enough to make a man lose his mind.”

“But it must be five years,” said Eleanore gently though firmly. “In five years I will not have changed. And if I am just the same in five years from now, why, we’ll talk it over again. I must not exclude myself from the world forever. My father often says: What looks like fate at Easter is a mere whim by Pentecost. I prefer to wait until Pentecost and not to forget my friend in the meantime.”

She gave him her hand with a smile.

He shook his head: “No, I can’t take your hand; another one of those shudders will run through you if I do. Farewell, Eleanore.”

“And you too, Eberhard, farewell!”

Eberhard started down the hill. Suddenly he stopped, turned around, and said: “Just one thing more. That musician—Nothafft is his name, isn’t it?—is engaged to your sister, isn’t he?”

“Yes, Gertrude and Daniel will get married some day. But who told you about it?”

“The musician himself was in a restaurant. The fellows were drinking, and he was so incautious as to raise his glass, and, somewhat after the fashion of an intoxicated drum-major, he himself drank to Gertrude’s health. For some time there was talk of his marrying you. It is much better as it is. I can’t stand artists. I can’t even have due respect for them, these indiscreet hotspurs. Good night, Eleanore.”

And with that he vanished in the darkness.

[123]IN MEMORY OF A DREAM FIGURE

I

One evening Daniel called on Benda to take leave of him for a long while.

Just as he was about to enter the front gate, he saw Herr Carovius’s dog standing there showing his teeth. The beast’s bloodshot eyes were fixed on a ten-year old girl who was likewise on the point of entering the house, but, afraid of the dog, she did not dare take another step. The animal had dragged his chain along behind him, and stood there now, snarling in a most vicious way.

Daniel took the child by the hand and led it back a few steps, after he had frightened the dog into silence by some rough commands. “Who are you?” he asked the girl.

“Dorothea Döderlein,” was the reply.

“Ah,” said Daniel. He could not help but laugh, for there was a comic tone of precociousness in the girl’s manner of speaking. But she was a very pretty child. A sly, smiling little face peeped out from under her hood, and her velvet mantle with great pearl buttons enshrouded a dainty figure.

“You should have been in bed long ago, Dorothea,” said Daniel. “What will the night watchman think when he comes along and finds you up? He will take you by the collar, and lead you off to jail.”

Dorothea told him why she was still up and why she was alone. She had been visiting a school friend, and the maid who called for her wanted to get a loaf of bread from the bakery before going up stairs. She related the story of her meeting with the dog with so much coquetry and detail that Daniel was delighted at the contrast between this rodomontade and the quaking anxiety in which he first found her.

“You are a fraud, Dorothea,” said Daniel, and called to mind the unpleasant sensation she aroused in him when he saw her for the first time years ago.

In the meanwhile the maid had come up with the loaf of bread; she looked with astonishment at the two as they stood there [124]gossiping, and immediately took the child into her charge, conscious as she was of her own dilatoriness. With a few piercing shrieks she drove Cæsar back from the gate, and as he ran across the street Dorothea cast one triumphant glance back at Daniel, feeling that she had proved to him that she was not the least afraid of the dog.

II

Frau Benda opened the door, closed it without saying a word, and went into her room. She had had a violent quarrel with her son, who had just informed her that he had accepted the invitation of a learned society to come to England and settle down. He was to start at the end of spring. Frau Benda was tired of travelling; she shuddered at the thought of moving. The separation from Friedrich seemed intolerable to her; and in his flight from the Fatherland she saw a final and premature renunciation of all the opportunities that might in the end present themselves to him at home.

She was convinced that the men who had done him injustice would in time come to see the error of their ways and make amends for their miscalculations. She was particularly anxious that he be patient until satisfaction had been done him. Moreover, she knew his plans, and trembled at the risks to which he was voluntarily exposing himself: she felt that he was undertaking a task for which he had not had the practical experience.

But his decision was irrevocable. That he had never said a word about it to Daniel, had not even insinuated that he was thinking of making a change, was due to the peculiar onesideness of their present relation to each other.

Laughing heartily, Daniel told of his meeting with little Dorothea. “She looks to me as though she will give old Döderlein a good deal to think about in the days to come,” said Daniel.

“You played him a pretty scurvy trick, the old Döderlein,” replied Benda. “The night after the public rehearsal I heard him walking up and down for hours right under my bedroom.”

“You feel sorry for him, do you?”

“If I were you, I would go to him and beg his pardon.”

“Do you really mean it?” exclaimed Daniel. Benda said nothing. Daniel continued: “To tell the truth, I should be grateful to him. It is due to his efforts that I have come to see, more quickly than I otherwise would have done, that those were two impossible imitations to which I wanted to assure a place in the sun. [125]They may throw me down if they wish; I’ll get up again, depend upon it, if, and even if, I have in the meantime gulped down the whole earth.”

Benda smiled a gracious smile. “Yes, you die at each fall, and at each come-back you appear a new-made man,” he said. “That is fine. But a Döderlein cannot come back, once his contemporaries have thrown him over. The very thing that means a new idea to you spells his ruin; what gives you pleasure, voluptuous pleasure, is death to him.”

“Y-e-s,” mumbled Daniel, “and yet, what good is he?”

“The spirit of nature, the spirit of God, is a total stranger to such conceptions as harmfulness and usefulness,” replied Benda in a tone of serious reflection. “He lives, and that is about all you can say. So far as I am concerned, I have not the slightest reason to defend a Döderlein in your presence.” He was silent for a moment and took a deep breath. “I cannot speak more distinctly; somehow or other I cannot quite find the right words,” he continued in a disconcerted way, “but the point is, the man has committed a crime against a woman, a crime so malicious, subtle, and naïve, that he deserves every stigma with which it is possible to brand him, and even then he would not be adequately punished.”

“You see,” exclaimed Daniel, “he is not only a miserable musician. And that is the way it always is. They are all like that. Oh, these bitter-sweet, grinning, pajama-bred, match-making, ninnying, super-smart manikins—it makes your blood curdle to look at one of them. And yet a real man has got to run the gauntlet before them his whole life long, and down through their narrow little alleys at that!”

“Rather,” said Benda with bowed head. “It is a tough, clammy poison pap. If you stir it with your finger, you will stick fast, and it will suck the very marrow out of your bones. But you are speaking for the time being without precise knowledge of all the pertinent material, as we say in science. During my study of the cells of plants and animals, I came to see that a so-called fundamental procreation was out of the question. I gave expression to this view in a circle of professional colleagues. They laughed at me. To-day it is no longer possible to oppose the theory I then advanced. One of my former friends succeeded in making certain combinations of acetic acid, crystallised by artificial means. When he made his great discovery known, one of the assembled gentlemen cried out: ‘Be careful, doctorette, or your amido atoms will get out of their cage.’ That is a sample of the base and treacherous [126]fashion in which we are treated by the very people who we might think were our warmest friends, for they are apparently trying to reach the same goal that we are. But you! The world may reject you, and you still have what no one can take from you. I have to wait in patience until a judge hands down a decision either condemning me or redeeming me. You? Between you and me there is the same difference that exists between the seed which, sunk into the earth, shoots up whether it rains or shines, and some kind of a utensil which rusts in the store because no one buys it.”

He got up and said: “You are the more fortunate of us two, it behooves me therefore to be the more merciful.”

Daniel could make no reply that would console him.

As he went home, he thought of the fidelity and the constant but unassuming help he had received from Benda. He thought of the refined and delicate consideration of his friend. He thought especially of that extraordinary courtesy which was so marked in him, that, for example, while laughing at a good joke, Benda would stop with open mouth if some one resumed the conversation: he did not wish to lose anything another might wish to say to him.

He stopped. It seemed to him that he had neglected the opportunity to put an especially reassuring, cordial, and unforgettable force into his final handshake. He would have liked to turn back. But it is not the custom to turn back; no one in truth can do it.

III

Daniel did not wish to take the mask of Zingarella with him on his tours. To expose the fragile material to all the risks associated with a fortuitous life on the road seemed to him an act of impiety. He had consequently promised Eleanore to leave the mask with her in Jordan’s house during his absence.

Eleanore opened the door; Daniel entered. Gertrude arose from her seat at the table, and came up to meet him. Her face showed, as it always did when she saw him, unmistakable traces of resignation, willingness, submissiveness.

Daniel walked over to the table, took the newspaper wrapping from the mask, and held it up in the light of the lamp.

“How beautiful!” exclaimed Gertrude, whose senses were now delighted at the sight of any object that appealed to one’s feelings.

“Well, take it, then, Gertrude,” said Eleanore, as she leaned both [127]elbows on the top of the table. “Keep it with you,” she continued somewhat tensely, when she noticed that Gertrude was looking at Daniel as if to say, “May I?”

“But won’t he give it to both of us?” replied Gertrude with a covetous smile.

“No, no, he simply mentioned me for courtesy’s sake,” said Eleanore, quite positively.

“Eleanore, I can scarcely tell you how I feel toward you,” said Daniel, half confused, half angry, and then stopped with conspicuous suddenness when the fiery blue of her eyes fell upon him.

“You?” she whispered in astonishment, “you?”

“Yes, you,” he replied emphatically. “Later I can tell everybody; to-day it is true in a double sense: you seem to me just like a sister.”

He had laid the mask to one side and extended his left hand to Eleanore, and then, hesitating at first, he gave Gertrude his right hand with a most decisive gesture.

Eleanore straightened up, took the mask of Zingarella, and held it up before her face. “Little Brother,” she cried out in a teasing tone. The pale, sweet stone face was wonderful to behold, as it was raised above the body that was pulsing with life.

And Gertrude—for one second she hung on Daniel’s gaze, a sigh as deep as the murmuring of the sea sounded in her bosom, and then she lay in his arms. He kissed her without saying a word. His face was gloomy, his brow wrinkled.

“Little Brother” sounded out from behind the mask. But there was no banter in the expression; it was much more like a complaint, a revelation of anguish: “Little Brother!”

IV

Daniel had left the city long ago. Eleanore chanced to meet Herr Carovius. He forced her to stop, conducted himself in such a familiar way, and talked in such a loud voice that the passersby simpered. He asked all about the young master, meaning Daniel.

He told her that “the good Eberhard”—it was his way of referring to Baron von Auffenberg—had gone to Munich for a few months, and was taking up with spiritists and theosophists.

“It is his way of having a fling,” said Herr Carovius, grinning from ear to ear. “In former times, when young noblemen wished to complete their education and have a little lark at the same time, [128]they made the grand tour over Europe. Now-a-days they become penny-a-liners, or they go in for table-tipping. Humanity is on the decline, my charming little girl. To study the flower of the nation at close range is no longer an edifying occupation. It is rotten, as rotten, I tell you, as last winter’s apples. There is consequently no greater pleasure than to make such a young chap dance. You play, he dances; you whistle, he retrieves. It is a real treat!”

He laughed hysterically, and then had a coughing spell. He coughed so violently that the black cord suspended from his nose-glasses became tangled about a button on his great coat, and his glasses fell from his nose. In his awkwardness, intensified by his short-sightedness, he fumbled the button and the cord with his bony fingers until Eleanore came to the rescue. One move, and everything was again in order.

Herr Carovius was struck dumb with surprise. He would never have imagined that a young girl could be so natural and unembarrassed. He suspected a trap: was she making fun of him, or did she wish to do him harm? It had never occurred to him that one might voluntarily assist him when in distress.

Suddenly he became ashamed of himself; he lifted his eyes and smiled like a simpleton; he cast a glance of almost dog-like tenderness at Eleanore. And then, without saying a word, without even saying good-bye to her, he hastened across the street to hide as soon as he might in some obscure corner.

V

One afternoon in the last week of August, the Rüdiger sisters sent the boy who attended to their garden over to Eleanore with the urgent request that she call as soon as she possibly could. Feeling that some misfortune had befallen Daniel and that the sisters wished to tell her about it, Eleanore was not slow about making up her mind: exactly one quarter of an hour later she entered the Rüdigers’ front door.

A lamentable sight greeted her. Each of the three sisters was sitting in a high-backed chair, her arms hanging lifeless from her sides. The curtains were drawn; in the shaded light their faces looked like mummies. Nor was the general impression measurably brightened by the “Medea,” the “Iphigenie,” and the “Roman Woman” that hung on the wall, copies of the paintings of their idol.

[129]

Eleanore’s greeting was not returned. She did not dare leave without finding what was the matter, and the silence with which she was received was broken only when she herself decided to ask some questions.

Fräulein Jasmina took out her handkerchief and dried her eyes. Fräulein Saloma looked around somewhat like a judge at a session of court. And then she began to speak: “We three lonely women, forgotten by the world, have asked you to come to our house so that we might tell you of a crime that has been committed in our innocent home. We never heard of it until this morning. It is such an unexampled, gruesome, abominable deed that we have been sitting here ever since it was brought to our attention, wringing our hands in vain attempt to make up our minds as to what course we should pursue.”

Fräulein Jasmina and Fräulein Albertina nodded their heads in sadness and without looking up.

“Can we put the unfortunate girl out of the house?” continued Fräulein Saloma, “can we, sisters? No! Can we afford to keep her? No! What are we to do then? She is an orphan; she is all alone, abandoned by her infamous seducer, and exposed to unmitigated shame. What are we to do?”

“And you,” said Fräulein Saloma turning to Eleanore, “you who are bound to that gifted monster by ties the precise nature of which we are in no position to judge, you are to show us a way out of this labyrinth of our affliction.”

“If I only knew what you are talking about,” said Eleanore, a great burden falling from her heart as she realised that her initial fears were groundless. “By the monster you evidently mean Daniel Nothafft. What crime has he committed?”

Fräulein Saloma was indignant at the flippancy of her manner. She rose to her full stature, and said with punitive lips: “He has made our maid an ordinary prostitute, and the consequences are no longer to be concealed. Do you know what we are talking about now?”

Eleanore uttered a faint “Oh!” and blushed to the roots of her hair. In her embarrassment she opened her mouth to laugh, but she came very near to crying.

Her saddened feelings slowly crept back to Daniel, and as the picture of him rose before her mind’s eye, she turned from it in disgust. But she did not wish to allow this picture to remain in her memory: it was too flabby, petty, and selfish. Before she knew what she was doing, she, as a woman, had pardoned him. Then [130]she shuddered, opened wide her eyes, and resumed her accustomed cheerfulness. She was again in complete control of herself.

The court had in the meanwhile examined the silent woman with stern scrutiny: “Where is Daniel Nothafft at present?” asked Fräulein Saloma.

“I do not know,” replied Eleanore, “he hasn’t written for over three weeks.”

“We must request you to inform him at once of the condition of the prostitute, for so long as such a person is in our house, we cannot sleep at night nor rest by day.”

“I am sorry that you take the matter so to heart,” said Eleanore, “and it is a rather disagreeable affair. But I have no right to mix myself up in it, nor have I the least desire to do so.”

The three sisters received this statement with despair; they wrung their hands. They would rather die, they said, than meet this voluptuary face to face again; they would endure all manner of martyrdom before they would have him come in. All three spoke at once; they threatened Eleanore; they implored her. Jasmina told with bated breath how Meta had come to them and confessed the whole business. Albertina swore that there was not another living soul on earth who could help them out of this shameless situation. Saloma said that there was nothing for them to do but to send the wicked creature back to the streets where she belonged.

Eleanore was silent. She had fixed her eyes on the “Medea,” and was doing some hard thinking. Finally she came to a conclusion: she asked whether she might speak to Meta. Filled at once with anxiety and hope, Saloma asked her what she wanted with Meta. She replied that she would tell them later what her purpose was. Fräulein Jasmina showed her the way to Meta’s room.

When Meta caught sight of Eleanore, her features became at once beclouded in sombre amazement.

She was sitting at the open window of her attic room knitting. She got up and looked into the face of the beautiful girl without saying a word. Eleanore was moved on seeing the tall, youthful figure, and yet it was quite impossible for her to subdue a feeling of horror.

At Eleanore’s very first words, Meta began to sob. Eleanore comforted her; she asked her where she was planning to go during her confinement.

“Why, there are institutions,” she murmured, holding her apron before her face, “I can go to one of them.”

Eleanore sat down on the side of the bed. She unrolled her [131]plans to the girl with a delicacy and consideration just as if she were speaking to a pampered lady. She spoke with a silver-clear vivacity just as if she were discussing some hardy prank. Meta looked at her at first with the air of one oppressed; later she assumed the attitude of a grateful listener.

Pained by the ethereal and inhuman primness of her three employers, angry at the man who had abandoned her to her present fate, and fighting against the reproaches of her own conscience, Meta became as wax in Eleanore’s hands, submissive, obedient, and appreciative.

The Rüdiger sisters, all but bursting with curiosity to know what Eleanore had in mind, could draw nothing from her other than that she was going to take Meta away and that Meta was agreed.

VI

It was Eleanore’s intention to take the pregnant girl to Daniel’s mother at Eschenbach.

She knew of the dissension between Daniel and his mother. She knew that the two avoided each other’s presence; that Daniel in his defiance felt it his duty to avenge himself for the lack of love on the part of his mother. Back of the picture of the unloving and impatient son she saw that of an old woman worrying her life away in silent care.

She had often given way to a painful feeling of sympathy when she thought of the unknown mother of her friend. It seemed to her now as if she could play the rôle of an emissary of reconciliation; as if it were her duty to take the deserted woman here to the deserted woman there; as if she were called to take the mother-to-be to the mother who had just reasons for regretting that she had ever been a mother.

It seemed to her as if she must create a bond which could not even be sundered by crime, to say nothing of misunderstanding or caprice; it seemed to her that Daniel had to effect a reconciliation in the home of the Rüdigers as well as in that of his mother; and that, conscious as she was of doing what was right, she would meet with no opposition, would have no settling of accounts to fear.

She also took the practical side of the matter into careful consideration: Meta would have no trouble in making her living in Eschenbach; she could help Daniel’s mother, or she could do day work among the peasants.

[132]

When the child was born, Daniel’s mother would have a picture of young life to look at; it would alleviate her longing; it would appease her bitterness to see a child of Daniel’s own blood.

Eleanore told the people at home that she was going on an excursion with a school friend to the Ansbach country. She studied the time-table, and wrote a postcard to Meta telling her to be at the station at eight o’clock in the morning.

Jordan approved of Eleanore’s outing, though he warned her against bandits and cold drinks. Gertrude was not wholly without suspicion. She had a feeling that something was wrong, that these unspoken words referred to Daniel, for she was always thinking about him.

If she received a letter from him, which was very rare, she would let it lie on the table for a long while, imagining that it was full of the most glorious declarations of his love for her, expressed in language which she could not command. In a sort of moon-struck ecstasy she made an inner, dreamed music out of what he wrote.

When she read his letter, she was satisfied merely to see the words he had written and to feel the paper on which his hand had rested. She submitted in silence to the laws of his nature, which would not permit him to be excessive in his remarks or unusually communicative. Each of his dry reports was a tiding of glad joy to her, though her own replies were just as dry, giving not the slightest picture of the enraptured soul from which they came.

She felt that Eleanore was lying, and that the lie she was telling was somehow connected with Daniel. That is why she went up to Eleanore’s bed in the dead of night, and whispered into her ear: “Tell me, Eleanore, has anything happened to Daniel?”

But before Eleanore could reply, reassured by her sister’s astonished behaviour, and angry at herself for having suspected Eleanore of a falsehood, she hurried back to her own bed. She had come to think more and more of her sister every day.

“How she must love him,” thought Eleanore to herself, and buried her smiling face in the pillow.

VII

“Wait for me at the fountain,” said Eleanore to her companion, as she crossed the market place in Eschenbach at midday: “I’ll call for you as soon as everything has been discussed.”

[133]

The coachman pointed out the little house of the widow Nothafft.

A woman with a stern face and unusually large eyebrows asked her what she wanted as she entered the little shop, which smelled of vinegar and cheese.

Eleanore replied that she would like to talk with her for a few minutes quite undisturbed and alone.

The profound seriousness of Marian’s features, which resembled more than anything else an incurable suffering, did not disappear. She closed the shop and took Eleanore into the living room, and, without saying a word, pointed to one chair and took another herself.

Above the leather sofa hung the picture of Gottfried Nothafft. Eleanore looked at it for a long while.

“Dear mother,” she finally began, laying her hand on Marian’s knee. “I am bringing you something from Daniel.”

Marian twitched. “Good or bad?” she asked. She had not heard from Daniel for twenty-two months. “Who are you?” she asked, “what have you to do with him?”

Eleanore saw at once that she would have to be extremely cautious if she did not wish to offend the sensitive—and offended—woman by some inconsiderate remark. With all the discrimination she could command she laid her case before Daniel’s mother.

And behold—the unusual became usual, just as the natural seemed strange. Eleanore pictured Daniel’s hardships and rise to fame, boasted loyally of his talents and of the enthusiasm for him of those who believed in him, referred to his future renown, and insisted that all his guilt, including that toward his mother, be forgotten and forgiven.

Marian reviewed the past; she understood a great many things now that were not clear to her years ago; she understood Daniel better; she understood virtually everything, except this girl’s relation to him and the girl herself. If it was peculiar that this strange woman had to come to her to tell her who Daniel was and what he meant to the people, it was wholly inexplicable that she had brought some one with her who had been the sweetheart of the very man for whom she now showed unreserved affection.

Eleanore read Marian’s face and became a trifle more deliberate. It occurred to her, too, to ask herself a few questions: What am I, any way? What is the matter with me?

She could not give a satisfactory answer to these questions. His friend? He my friend? The words seemed to contain too much [134]peace and calm. Brother? Companion? Either of these words brought up pictures of intimate association, inner relationship. Little Brother! Yes, that is what she had called out to him once from behind the mask. Well then: Little sister behind the mask?

Yes, that was what it should be: Little sister behind the mask. She had to have a hiding place for so many things of which she had only a vague presentiment and which in truth she did not care to visualise in brighter outlines. A subdued heart, a captured heart—it glows, it cools off, you lift it up, you weigh it down just as fate decrees. To be patient, not to betray anything, that was the all-important point: Little sister behind the mask—that was the idea.

Marian said: “My child, God himself has inspired you with the idea of coming to me and telling me about Daniel. I will put fresh flowers in the window as I did some time ago, and I will leave the front door open so that the swallows can fly in and build their nests. Perhaps he will think then from time to time of his mother.”

Then she asked to see Meta. Eleanore went out, and returned in a few minutes with her charge. Marian looked at the pregnant girl compassionately. Meta was ill at ease; to every question that was put to her she made an incoherent reply. She could stay with her, said Marian, but she would have to work, for there was no other way for the two to live. The girl referred to the fact that she had already worked out for four years, and that no one had ever accused her of lack of industry or willingness. Thereupon Marian told her she would have to be very quiet, that the people in the neighbourhood were very curious, and that if she ever gave them her family history she would have to leave.

This attended to, Eleanore went on her way. She refused quite emphatically to stay for dinner. Marian thought that she was in a hurry to catch the next coach, and accompanied her across the square. They promised to write to each other; before Eleanore got into the rickety old coach, Marian kissed her on the cheek.

She watched the coach until it had passed out through the city gate. A drunken man poked her in the ribs, the blacksmith called to her as she passed by, the doctor’s wife leaned out of the window and asked her who the cityfied lady was. Marian paid not the slightest attention to any of them; she went quietly and slowly back to her house.

[135]

VIII

Thus it came about that five weeks later a daughter of Daniel Nothafft saw the light of the world under Marian’s roof.

As soon as the child was born, Marian took a great liking to it, despite the fact that she had thought of it before its birth only with aversion. It was a fine little creature: its little legs and arms were delicately formed, its head was small, there was something peculiarly human about its first cries and laughter, and it showed quite distinctly that there was something noble in its character.

The people of Eschenbach were astonished. “Where did the child come from?” they asked. “Who is its mother? Who is its father?” The records in the office of the registrar of births showed that Meta Steinhäger was the mother of the illegitimate child, Eva Steinhäger, and that its father was unknown.

It was to be presumed, however, that widow Nothafft knew the details. The old women, and the young ones too, came on this account more frequently now than ever to her shop. They wanted to know how the little thing was getting along, whether its milk agreed with it, whether it had begun to teethe, whether it would speak German or some foreign tongue, and so on.

In order to quiet them, Marian told them that Meta was a poor relative and that she was bringing up the child at her own expense. It was not difficult to make this story seem plausible, for Meta had very little to do with her daughter. Shortly after her confinement, she got a job with a baker over in Dinkelsbühl, and never visited Eva more than once a month. She cared very little for the child. A young fellow in the bakery had fallen in love with Meta, and wanted to marry her and move to America.

At Christmas they were married, and left the country at once. Marian was glad of it: the child now belonged entirely to her.

Though the people soon became accustomed to the existence of their diminutive fellow-townswoman, Eva was and remained the mysterious child of Eschenbach.

IX

The opera company made its rounds through the small cities that lie between the Danube and the Main, the Saale and the Neckar—and there are many of them,—its stay in any one place depending naturally on the interest shown by the public.

[136]

“The province is the enchanted Sleeping Beauty,” said the impresario Dörmaul to Wurzelmann and Daniel, “the province is still asleep, and you must rouse it from its slumbers by pressing the kiss of the Muse on its forehead.”

But the impresario was unwilling to open his pockets. The princes who were to release Sleeping Beauty did not have sufficient means to make a presentable appearance, while their retinue was seedy-looking indeed.

The tenor had long since passed the zenith of his career. His massive paunch placed deadening strictures on his credentials as the impersonator of heroes. The buffo was an inveterate toper who had often been placed behind bars by the police for his nocturnal excesses. The barytone had a big lawsuit on his hands about an estate; his lawyers were two stars of obscurity from a small village; and at times he became so vexed at the cuts of his opponents that he lost his voice. The soprano was incessantly quarrelling with her colleagues, and the alto was an intriguing vixen quite without talent. In addition to these there were a dozen or so super-numeraries and under-studies, who were bored, who played practical jokes on each other, drew starvation wages, and had never learned anything.

The musicians were also a sorry lot. It was not rare that one or the other of them had pawned his instrument. Once a performance had to be postponed because the violinists had stayed over their time at a village dance where they were playing in order to add to their paltry income. The inspector, who was scene-shifter, promoter, ticket seller, and publicity agent all in one, and who was not equal to any of these positions, took French leave in the second year and ran off with one of the chorus girls, taking the box-office receipts for the evening with him.

One time the costumes were sent to the wrong address, with the result that Boieldieu’s “La Dame Blanche” had to be played in woollen frocks, patched velvet skirts, filthy cotton blouses, and French wadding.

Another time the mob in “Martha” consisted of a distempered woman, a waiter brought in at the last minute from a herring restaurant, and the door-keeper of an orphanage: the chorus had gone on a strike because their salaries had been held up.

In Karlstadt the final act of the “Merry Wives of Windsor” could not be played, because during the intermission Falstaff and Mrs. Quickly had got into a fight, and the lady had scratched a huge piece of skin from the singer’s nose.

[137]

If these musical strollers, as acting-director Wurzelmann called the company, nevertheless made some money, it was due to the superhuman efforts of Daniel. Wurzelmann was always mixed up in some kind of love affair, introduced in time a ruinous system of favouritism, and became lazier and lazier as the weeks passed by.

Daniel had to pull the singers out of their beds to get them to go to rehearsals; Daniel had to help out with the singing when the chorus was too weak; Daniel had to distribute the rôles, tame down refractory women, and make brainless dilettants subordinate their noisy opinions to the demands of a work which he himself generally detested. He had to drill beginners, abbreviate scores, transpose voices, and produce effects with lamentably inadequate material. And from morning to night he had to wage war eternal against libellous action, inattention, and inability.

Nobody loved him for this; they merely feared him. They swore they would take vengeance on him, but they knuckled under whenever they seemed to have a chance. He had a habit of treating them with crushing coldness, he could make them look like criminals. He had a look of icy contempt that made them clench their fists when his eye fell on them. But they bowed before a power which seemed uncanny to them, though it consisted in nothing more than the fact that he did his duty while they did not.

At the close of each quarter, the impresario Dörmaul appeared on the scene to take invoice in person. His presence was invariably celebrated by a gala performance of “Fra Diavolo,” or “The Daughter of the Regiment,” or “Frou Frou.” On these occasions the buffo did not get drunk, the barytone rested from the torments of his lawsuit, the alto had a charming smile for the sympathetic house, the soprano was as peaceful as a mine immediately after an explosion. Not one of the chorus stayed too long in the café; and since Wurzelmann directed, and the orchestra did not have to feel the burning, basilisk eye of Kapellmeister Nothafft resting on it and floating over it, it played with more precision and produced a more pleasing feast for the ears than ordinarily.

Dörmaul was not stingy with his praise. “Bravo Wurzelmann,” he cried, “one more short year of hard work, and I’ll get you a position in the Royal Opera House.”

“Nothafft will likewise rise to fame and office,” he said, “although I was so stupid as to publish his music, and now all this waste paper is lying in my shop like a pound of brick cheese in a sick stomach.”

The impresario Dörmaul wore black and white striped trousers [138]of imported cut, a vest that looked like a bit of tapestry made of pressed leather, a massive gold watch-chain from which dangled countless fobs, a blood red tie with a diamond as big as the Koh-i-noor and as false as an April sun, and a grey silk tile hat which he lifted only when in the presence of privy councillors, generals, and police presidents.

To a man of this kind Daniel had the boldness to remark: “Had you eaten cheese you would at least have digested it. Your crowded shops are after all more desirable in my estimation than many a head which would remain empty even if some one stuffed the whole of the ‘Passion of St. Matthew’ into it.”

Dörmaul decided to laugh. “Oho, my good fellow,” he said, and pushed his tile hat on to the back of his head, “you are getting all puffed up. Look out that you don’t burst. You remember the story of Hänschen: He was awfully proud of his porridge while sitting behind the stove; but when he went out on to the street, he fell into the puddle.”

The little slave tittered. Daniel had known for a long time that Wurzelmann was working against him. Quite innocently, to be sure, for half souls can admire and betray at the same time.

“Envy is my only virtue,” said Wurzelmann quite openly, “I am a genius at envying.”

Daniel was not equal to such cynicism. He was stupefied by Wurzelmann’s remark, but he did not break with the little slave; he continued to use him. He was the only individual with whom he could speak of himself and his work. And though he was overburdened, owing to his present position, he nevertheless managed to steal a few hours every day for his own work. And the pressure from all sides fanned the flame within him.

It was then that he staked out his field in order to be master in his own realm; he turned to the song; he chose the clear, restrained forms of chamber music; he studied with unwavering industry the old masters; he deduced from their works the right rules of composition; and he set these up before him like a dam against arbitrariness and æsthetic demoralisation.

He was not unmindful of the fact that by so doing he was cutting himself off from association with men, and renouncing, probably forever, the satisfaction that comes from monetary reward and outward success. He knew, too, that he was not making his life easier by adopting this course, nor was he gaining the popular favour of the emotionalists.

When he would sit in a café late at night and show Wurzelmann [139]one score after another, sing a few bars in order to bring out the quality of a song, improvise an accompaniment, praise a melody, or explain the peculiarity of a certain rhythm, he surprised the little slave, and drove him into an attitude of self-defence. All this was fundamentally new to Wurzelmann. If Daniel proved that the new was not new after all, that the trouble lay in the fact that the deranged and shattered souls of the present century had lost the power to assimilate unbroken lines in their complete purity, Wurzelmann at once became an advocate of modern freedom, insisting that each individual should be allowed to do all that his innate talent enabled him to vindicate.

Daniel remained unconvinced. Was not the whole of life, the rich contents of human existence, to be found in the beautiful vessel that had been proved long ago? Could any one say that he was displaying a spirit of greediness in his love for the classical? And were joy and sorrow, however intense, less perceptible when expressed through a concise, well ordered medium? “What a distorted view a man takes when he becomes so narrow-minded,” thought Daniel. “His ambition makes it impossible for him to feel; his very wit militates against clear thinking.”

Thus they went from town to town, month after month, year after year. The company had in time its traditions, its chronique scandaleuse, its oft-tested drawing cards, its regular patrons, its favourite stands, and its stands that it avoided if humanly possible.

The local paper greeted them editorially; the children stood on the sidewalks to gape their fill at the ladies from the theatre; the retired major bought a reserved seat for the first performance; the barber offered his services; and the faculty of the Latin School held a special meeting to decide whether they should permit their pupils to go to the opera or not. The Young Men’s Christian Association voiced its protest against the nude shoulders of the artistes; the members of the Casino turned up their noses at the achievements of the company; the police insisted that the booth or hotel lobby in which they performed should be fireproof; the wife of the mining engineer fell in love with the barytone, and her husband hired a number of hoodlums to take their places in the gallery and hoot and hiss when the time came. And those who nag under any circumstances requested more cheerfulness. They found the “Czar and Zimmermann” too dull, the “Muette de Portici” too hackneyed. They insisted on “Madame Angot” and “Orpheus in the Under World.”

There was always something wrong.

[140]

Daniel shuddered at the mere presence of these people; he was repelled by their occupations, their amusements, and the cadavers of their ideals. He did not like the way they laughed; nor could he stand their dismal feelings. He despised the houses out of which they crept, the detectives at their windows, their butcher shops and hotels, their newspapers, their Sundays and their work days. The world was pressing hard upon him. He had to look these people straight in the face, and they compelled him to haggle with them for money, words, feelings, and ideas.

He learned in time, however, to see other things: the forests on the banks of the Main; the great meadows in the hills of Franconia; the melancholy plains of Central Germany; the richly variegated slopes of the Jura Mountains; the old cities with their walls and cathedrals, their gloomy alleys and deserted castles. In time he came to see people in a different and easier light. He saw the young and the old, the fair and the homely, the cheerful and the sad, the poor—and the rich so far away and peaceful. They gave him, without discrimination, of their wealth and their poverty. They laid their youth and their old age, their beauty and their ugliness, their joys and their sorrows, at his feet.

And the country gave him the forests and the fields, the brooks and the rivers, the clouds and the birds, and everything that is under the earth.

X

It was winter. The company came to Ansbach, where they were to play in the former Margrave Theatre. “Freischütz” was to be given, and Daniel had held a number of special rehearsals.

But a violent snow storm broke out on the day of the performance; scarcely two dozen people attended.

How differently the violins sounded in this auditorium! The voices were, as it seemed, automatically well balanced; there was in them an element of calm and assurance. The orchestra? Daniel had so charmed it that it obeyed him as if it were a single instrument. At the close of the last act, an old, grey-haired man stepped up to Daniel, smiled, took him by the hand, and thanked him. It was Spindler.

Daniel went home with him; they talked about the past, the future, men and music. They could not stop talking; nor could the snow stop falling. This did not disturb them. They met [141]again on the following day; but at the end of the week Spindler was taken ill, and had to go to bed.

As Daniel entered the residence of his old friend one morning, he learned that he had died suddenly the night before. It had been a peaceful death.

On the third day, Daniel followed the funeral procession to the cemetery. When he left the cemetery—there were but few people at the funeral—he went out into the snow-covered fields, and spent the remainder of the day walking around.

That same night he sat down in his wretched quarters, and began his composition of Goethe’s “Harzreise im Winter.” It was one of the profoundest and rarest of works ever created by a musician, but it was destined, like the most of Daniel’s compositions, not to be preserved to posterity. This was due to a tragic circumstance.

XI

In the spring of 1886, the company went north to Hesse, then to Thuringia, gave performances in a few of the towns in the Spessart region and along the Rhoen, the box receipts growing smaller and smaller all the while. Dörmaul had not been seen since the previous autumn; the salaries had not been paid for some time. Wurzelmann prophesied a speedy and fatal end of the enterprise.

An engagement of unusual length had been planned for the town of Ochsenfurt. The company placed its last hopes on the series, although it was already June and very warm. The thick, muggy air of the gloomy hall in which they were to play left even the enthusiasts without much desire to brighten up the monotony of provincial life by the enjoyment of grand opera.

They drew smaller houses from day to day. Finally there was no more money in the till; they did not even have enough to move to the next town. To make matters worse, the tenor was taken down with typhus, and the other singers refused to sing until they had been paid. Daniel wrote to Dörmaul, but received no reply. Wurzelmann, instead of helping, fanned the easily inflamed minds of the company into a fire of noise, malevolence, and hostility. They demanded that Daniel give them what was due them, besieged him in his hotel, and finally brought matters to such a pitch that the whole town was busied with their difficulties.

[142]

One afternoon, a stately gentleman between fifty-five and fifty-six years old entered Daniel’s room, and introduced himself as Sylvester von Erfft, the owner of an estate.

His mission was as follows: Every year, at this season, the Chancellor of the German Empire was taking the cure at the nearby Kissingen Baths. Herr von Erfft had made his acquaintance, and the Prince, an enthusiastic landowner, had expressed the desire to visit Herr von Erfft’s estate, the management of which was widely known as excellent in every way. In order to celebrate the coming of the distinguished guest with befitting dignity, it had been decided not to have any tawdry fireworks or cheap shouting, but to give a special performance of the “Marriage of Figaro” in a rococo pavilion that belonged to the Erfft estate.

“This idea comes from my wife,” said Herr von Erfft. “Some ladies and gentlemen of noble birth who belong to our circle will sing the various parts, and my daughter Sylvia, who studied for two years in Milan with Gallifati, will take the part of the page. The only thing we lack is a trained orchestra. For this reason I have come to you, Herr Kapellmeister, to see if you could not bring your orchestra over and play for us.”

Daniel, though pleased with the kindly disposition of Herr von Erfft, could not make him any definite promise, for he felt bound to the helpless, if not hopeless, opera company now in his care. Herr von Erfft inquired more closely into the grounds of his doubt as to his ability to have his orchestra undertake the special engagement, and then asked him whether he would accept his help. “Gladly,” replied Daniel, “but such help as you can offer us will hardly be of any avail. Our chief is a hardened sinner.”

Herr von Erfft went with Daniel to the mayor; a half-hour later an official dispatch was on its way to the impresario Dörmaul. It was couched in language that was sufficient to inspire any citizen with respect, referred to the desperate plight in which the company then found itself, and demanded in a quite imperious tone that something be done at once.

Dörmaul was frightened; he sent the necessary money by return wire. In another telegram to Wurzelmann he declared the company dissolved; most of the contracts had expired, and those members of the company who put in claims were satisfied in one way or another.

Daniel was free. Wurzelmann said to him on taking leave: “Nothafft, you will never amount to anything. I have been disappointed in you. You have far too much conscience. You [143]cannot make children out of morality, much less music. The swamp is quaggy, the summit rocky. Commit some act of genuine swinishness, so that you may put a little ginger into your life.”

Daniel laid his hand on his shoulder, looked at him with his cold eyes, and said: “Judas.”

“All right, Judas so far as I am concerned,” said Wurzelmann. “I was not born to be nailed to the cross; I am much more for the feasts with the Pharisees.”

He had got a position as critic on the Phœnix, one of the best known musical magazines.

Daniel found the members of the orchestra only too glad to take the excursion over to Herr von Erfft’s. They were put up in a hotel; Daniel himself lived in the castle. The rehearsals were held with zeal and seriousness. Though the name of the Chancellor was still darkened by the clouds of political life, by the enmity of his opponents, by pettiness and misunderstanding, all these young people felt the power of the great Immortal, and were delighted with the idea of meaning something to him, even in the guise of an imaginary world and for only a fleeting hour or two. Agatha von Erfft, the wife of Herr von Erfft, was indefatigable in preparing the costumes, surmounting technical difficulties, and entertaining her guests. The twenty-four-year-old Sylvia had inherited neither the strength of her mother nor the amiability of her father: she was delicate and reserved. Nevertheless, she managed to put a great deal of winsomeness and roguishness into the rôle of the cherub. Even her parents were surprised at the unexpected wealth of her natural ability. Moreover, her voice was velvety and well trained. Accustomed as he had been for years to the mediocre accomplishments of sore throats, Daniel nodded approval when she sang.

The other members of the improvised company he handled with no greater indulgence than he had shown the singers of the Dörmaul troupe. They had to put up with his gruffness and snappishness, and to do it without a murmur. Herr von Erfft attended the rehearsals regularly, observing Daniel at all times with quiet admiration. If Daniel spoke to any one with such seeming harshness that the case was taken up with Herr von Erfft, the latter said: “Let the man have his way; he knows his business; there are not many like him.”

Sylvia was the only one he treated with consideration. As soon as Herr von Erfft mentioned her name, Daniel listened; and as soon as he had seen her, he knew that he had seen her before. It [144]was the time he was on his journey; he was standing out at the entrance to the park; some one called to her. It seemed strange to him that he should remember this. Now he was with her, and yet he was just as much of a stranger to her as ever.

But the thing that drew him to the beautiful girl had nothing to do with this chance incident; nor was there the slightest trace of sensuousness in his feelings. It was all a sort of dream-like sympathy, similar to the quest of memory in search of a forgotten happiness. It was a vaguer and more plaguing sensation than the one that bound him so inviolably to Gertrude; it was more sorrow than joy, more unrest than consciousness.

This forgotten happiness slumbered deep down in his soul; it had been washed away by the waves of life. It was not Sylvia herself; it was perhaps a movement of her hand: where had he known this same movement before? It was the way she tossed her head back; it was her proud look, the blue of her eyes—but where had he seen all this before?

Forgotten, forgotten....

XII

Just as everything was in full swing, just as they had decorated the buildings and arranged the Herrenhaus, the news came of the death of King Ludwig of Bavaria. The newspapers bore a broad black margin, and were crowded with details concerning the tragedy at the Starnbergersee. The entire country, including the family of Herr von Erfft, mourned the loss of the art-loving monarch genuinely and for a long while.

Of an operatic performance there could be no thought. The Chancellor cancelled his engagement, and the young men who had assembled for the rehearsals went quietly home. Herr von Erfft gave Daniel a considerable purse with which he might recompense his musicians for their trouble, and, not wishing to treat Daniel himself as though he were an ordinary mechanic, he invited him to spend a few more days on his estate.

Daniel did not decline; he had not in truth given one minute’s thought to where he would go when he left.

After he distributed the present from Herr von Erfft among the musicians and discharged them, he took a long walk in the woods. He ate a frugal meal in a village restaurant, and then sauntered around until evening. When he returned, he found his hosts sitting at the table. He neglected to beg their pardon; Frau [145]Agatha looked at her husband and smiled, and told the maids to bring in something for the Herr Kapellmeister. Sylvia had a book in her hand and was reading.

Daniel was a trifle ill at ease; he merely took a bite here and there. When Frau von Erfft left the table, walked over to the window, and looked out into the cloudy sky, Daniel got up, went into the adjoining room, and sat down at the piano.

He began to play Schubert’s “Song to Sylvia.” Having finished the impetuous, heart-felt song, he struck up a variation, then a second, a third, and a fourth. The first was melancholy, the second triumphant, the third meditative, the fourth dreamy. Each was a hymn to forgotten joy.

Herr von Erfft and Agatha were standing in the open door. Sylvia had sat down close beside him on a tabourette; there was a pleasing, far-away look in her eyes, riveted though they were to the floor.

He suddenly stopped, as if to avoid both thanks and applause. Sylvester von Erfft took a seat opposite him, and asked him in a most kindly tone whether he had any definite plans for the immediate future.

“I am going back to Nuremberg and get married,” said Daniel. “My fiancée has been waiting for me for a long time.”

Herr von Erfft asked him whether he was not afraid of premature marriage bonds. Daniel replied rather curtly that he needed some one to stand between him and the world.

“You need some one to act as a sort of buffer,” said Frau Agatha sarcastically. Daniel looked at her angrily.

“Buffer? No, but a guardian angel if such a creature can shield me from rebuffs,” said Daniel, even more brusquely than he had spoken the first time.

“Why do you wish to settle down and live in Nuremberg, a city of such one-sided commercial interests?” continued Herr von Erfft, with an almost solicitous caution. “Would you not have a much better opportunity as a composer in one of the great cities?”

“It is impossible to separate the daughter from her father,” replied Daniel with unusual candour. “It is impossible. Nor is it possible to get the old man to tear himself away from his former associations. He was born and reared there. And I do not wish to live alone any longer. Everybody needs a companion; even the miner digs with a better heart, when he knows that up on the earth above his wife is preparing the soup. I must say, however, that I am not so much taken up with the soup phase of married [146]life: it is the dear little soul that will belong to me that interests me.”

He turned around, and struck a minor chord.

“And even if everything were different, your great cities would not attract me,” he began again, wrinkling his face in a most bizarre way. “What would I get out of them? Companions? I have had enough of them. Music I can study at home. I can summon the masters of all ages to my study. Fame and riches will find their way to me, if they wish to. The dawn is missed only by those who are too indolent to get up, and real music is heard by all except the deaf. God attends to everything else; man has nothing to do with it.”

He struck another chord, this time in a major key.

Herr von Erfft and his wife looked at him with evident joy and sympathy. Sylvia whispered something to her mother, who then said to Daniel: “I have a sister living in Nuremberg, Baroness Clotilde von Auffenberg. From the time she was a mere child she was an ardent lover of good music. If I give you a letter of introduction to her, I am quite sure she will welcome you with open arms. She is unfortunately not in the best of health, and a heavy fate is just now hanging over her; but she has a warm heart, and her affections are trustworthy.”

Daniel looked down at the floor. He thought of Gertrude and his future life with her, and murmured a few words of gratitude. Frau von Erfft went at once to her desk, and wrote a detailed letter to her sister. When she had finished it, she gave it to Daniel with a good-natured smile.

The next morning he left the castle with the feeling of regret that one experiences on leaving the dwelling place of peace and separating from noble friends.

XIII

The streets of Nuremberg were hung with black banners. It was raining. Daniel took a cheap room in The Bear.

It had already grown dark when he started to Jordan’s. He met Benno at the front door. He did not recognise the foppishly-dressed young man, and was on the point of passing by without speaking to him; but Benno stopped, and laughed out loud.

“Whew, the Herr Kapellmeister!” he cried, and his pale face, already showing the signs of dissipation, took on a scornful expression. “Be careful, my friend, or Gertrude will swoon.”

[147]

Daniel asked if they were all well. Benno replied that there was no lack of good health, though some of the family were a little short of change. Then he laughed again. He spoke of his father, said the old gentleman was not getting along very well, that he was having quite a little trouble to get anything to do, but then what could be expected with a man of his age, and the competition and the hard times! Daniel asked if Eleanore was at home. No, she was not at home: she had gone on a visit with Frau Rübsam over to Pommersfelden, and planned to stay there for a few weeks. “Well, I’ll have to be hurrying along,” said Benno, “my fraternity brothers are waiting for me.”

“Good gracious! Do you have fraternity brothers too?”

“Of course! They are the spice of my life! We have a holiday to-day: The King’s funeral. Well, God bless you, Herr Kapellmeister, I must be going.”

Daniel went up and rang the bell; Gertrude came to the door. It was dark; each could see only the outline of the other.

“Oh, it’s you, Daniel!” she whispered, happy as happy could be. She came up to him, and laid her face on his shoulder.

Daniel was surprised at the regularity of his pulse. Yesterday the mere thought of this meeting took his breath. Now he held Gertrude in his arms, and was amazed to find that he was perfectly calm and composed.

In the room he led her over to the lamp, and looked at her for a long while, fixedly and seriously. She grew pale at the sight of him: he was so strange and so terrible.

Then he took her by the hand, led her over to the sofa, sat down beside her, and told her of his plans. Her wishes and his tallied exactly. He wanted to get married within four weeks. Very well; she would get married.

He found her the same unqualifiedly submissive girl. In her eyes there was an expression of fatal docility; it terrified him. There was no cowardly doubt in her soul; her cool hand lay in his and did not twitch. With her hand her whole soul, her whole life, lay in his hand. He wanted to raise some doubt in her mind: he spoke in a down-hearted tone of his future prospects; he said that there was very little hope of his ever winning recognition from the world for his compositions.

“What is the good of recognition?” she asked. “They can take nothing from you, and what they give you is clear gain.”

He became silent. The feeling of her worth to him swept like a fiery meteor through the heaven of his existence.

[148]

The statement that they were going to remain in Nuremberg made her happy, particularly because of her father. She said there was a small apartment for rent on Ægydius Place, three rooms, a very quiet neighbourhood. They went over to the window; Gertrude showed him the house. It was close to the church, right where the Place makes a turn.

Jordan came in, and welcomed Daniel with a long handshake. His hair had become greyer, he walked with more of a stoop, and his clothes showed traces of neglect.

When he heard what Daniel and Gertrude were planning to do, he shook his head: “It is a bad year, children. Why are you in such a hurry? Both of you are still young.”

“If we were older, we would have less courage,” replied Daniel.

Jordan took a seat, and buried his face in his hands. In course of time he looked up, and said that three years ago he had only eight thousand marks in the bank; that hard times had forced him to draw on this sum to keep the house going; and that to-day there was hardly a third of it left. Two thousand marks was all he could give Gertrude as a dowry; with that they would have to be satisfied, and get along as well as they could.

“We don’t need any more,” said Daniel; “as a matter of fact I did not expect that much. Now I haven’t a care in the world; I am ready for anything.”

A bat flew in at the open window, and then quietly flew out again. It had stopped raining. You could still hear the water trickling and splashing down the leaders and in the pipes. There was something heavy, portentous, in the air of this June evening.

XIV

At first Daniel had received small bits of news from England about Benda, but for a year and a half he had not heard a word. When Eleanore returned from Pommersfelden in July, she told him that she had received a letter from Benda in April, and that she had sent him this letter when he was at Naumburg. Daniel, however, had never received it, and the investigations which he made proved fruitless.

Benda’s mother was not in the city; she was living with relatives in Worms, but had kept her apartment at Herr Carovius’s.

Frau von Auffenberg was at Bad Ems, and did not plan to return until September. Daniel looked up old friends, and rebound the ties of former days. He also succeeded in getting a [149]number of students to tutor, an occupation that netted him a little spending money.

He had to attend to a great deal of business for which he was quite unfit. He had imagined that he could get married just as he might go to a shop and buy something: he would not make any noise, nor would it take much time. He had a hundred moods, a hundred objections, a hundred grimaces. The apartment on Ægydius Place was already rented. It embittered him to think that in order to live with a person you loved, you had to have tables, beds, chairs, cupboards, lamps, glasses, plates, garbage cans, water pails, window cushions, and a thousand and one other foolish objects.

There was a great deal of talk in the city about the marriage. The people said they did not know what Jordan could be thinking of. They were convinced that he was in desperate financial straits if he would marry his daughter to an impecunious musician.

Daniel found everything hard: every day was his Day of Judgment. A melody was gnawing at his heart, trying to take on a pure and finished form. Freedom sounded in his ears with voices from above; his quiet fiancée begged for comradeship. The task to which he had dedicated himself demanded loneliness; then his blood carried him along and away, and he became like wax, but wild.

He would rush to Jordan’s house, enter the living room, his hair all dishevelled, sit down where the two sisters were working on Gertrude’s trousseau, and never utter a syllable until Gertrude would come up to him and lay her hand on his forehead. He thrust her back, but she smiled gently. At times, though none too frequently, he would take her by the arms and pull her down to him. When he did this, Eleanore would smile with marked demureness, as if it were not right for her to see two people in love.

There was a second-hand baby grand piano in Jordan’s living room. Daniel played on it in the evening, and the sisters listened. Gertrude was like a woman wrapt in peaceful slumber, her every wish having been fulfilled, with kindly spirits watching over her. Eleanore, however, was wide awake; she was awake and meditating.

XV

The day of the wedding arrived. At half past nine in the morning, Daniel appeared in Jordan’s house. He wore an afternoon [150]suit and a high hat! He was vexed, and villanous to behold, a picture of misery.

Benno, the man of the world, was forced to leave the room. No sooner was he outside than he laughed so heartily that he fell into a clothes basket. He did not approve of this marriage; he was ashamed to tell his friends about it.

Gertrude wore a plain street dress and a little virgin bonnet, then prescribed by fashion. She sat by the table, and gazed into space with wide-opened eyes.

Eleanore came into the room with a wreath of myrtle. “You must put this on, Gertrude,” she said, “just to please us; just to make us feel that you are a real bride. Otherwise you look too sober, too much as though you two were going to the recorder’s office on profane business.”

“Where did you get that wreath?” asked Jordan.

“I found it in an old chest; it is mother’s bridal wreath.”

“Really? Mother’s bridal wreath?” murmured Jordan, as he looked at the faded myrtle.

“Put it on, Gertrude,” Eleanore again requested, but Gertrude looked first at Daniel, and then laid it to one side.

Eleanore went up to the mirror, and put it on her own head.

“Don’t do that, child,” said Jordan with a melancholy smile. “Superstitious people say that you will remain an old maid forever, if you wear the wreath of another.”

“Then I will remain an old maid, and gladly so,” said Eleanore.

She turned away from the mirror, and looked at Daniel half unconscious of what she was doing. The blond of her eyelashes had turned almost grey, the red of her lips had been dotted with little spots from her smiling, and her neck was like something liquid and disembodied.

Daniel saw all this. He looked at the Undine-like figure of the girl. It seemed to him that he had not seen her since the day of his return, that he had not noticed that she had become more mature, more beautiful, and more lovely. All of a sudden he felt as if he were going to swoon. It went through him like a flash: Here, here was what he had forgotten; here was the countenance, the eye, the figure, the movement that had stood before him, and he, fool, unspeakable fool, had been struck by blindness.

Gertrude had a fearful suspicion of the experience he was going through. She arose, and looked at Daniel in horror. He hastened up to her as if he were fleeing, and seized her hands. Eleanore, [151]believing she had aroused Daniel’s displeasure by some word or gesture, snatched the myrtle wreath from her hair.

Jordan had paid no attention to these incidents. Bringing at last his restless pacing back and forth to an end, he took out his watch, looked at it, and said it was time they were going. Eleanore, who had displayed a most curious disposition the whole morning, asked them to wait a minute. Before they could find out why she wished them to wait, the door bell rang, and she ran out.

She returned with a radiant expression on her face; Marian Nothafft followed her. Marian composed herself only with extreme difficulty. Her eyes roamed about over the circle of people before her, partly as if she were frightened, partly as if she were looking for some one.

Mother and son stood face to face in absolute silence. That was the work of Eleanore.

Marian said she was living with her sister Theresa; that she had arrived the day before; and that she wished to return this evening.

“I am glad, Mother, that you could come,” said Daniel with a stifled voice.

Marian laid her hand on his head; she then went up to Gertrude, and did the same.

After the wedding, Jordan gave a luncheon for his children. In the afternoon they all started off in two hired coaches. Daniel had never seen his mother so cheerful; but it was useless to ask her to prolong her visit. While this was being discussed, she and Eleanore exchanged knowing glances.

As evening drew on, Daniel and Gertrude betook themselves to their home.

XVI

It is night. The antiquated old square is deserted. The bell in the church tower has struck eleven; the lights in the windows die out, slowly, one by one.

The figure of a woman is seen coming up the alley. She is spying anxiously about, before her and behind her. Finally she stops before the little house in which Daniel and Gertrude live. Is it a living creature? Is it not rather an uncanny gnome? The garments hang loose about the unshapely body; a crumpled straw hat covers the mad-looking face; the shoulders are raised; the fists are clenched; the eyes are glassy.

[152]

Suddenly there is a scream. The woman hastens over toward the church, falls on her knees, and sinks her teeth with frenzied madness into the wooden pickets of the fence. After some time she rises, stares up once more at the windows with distorted lips, and then moves away with slow, dragging steps.

It was Philippina Schimmelweis. She kept going about the streets in this fashion until break of day.

[153]DANIEL AND GERTRUDE

I

The Reichstag had voted to extend the period during which the Socialist law would be in effect; the passing of a new army bill was also to be expected. These two measures had provoked tumultuous discord in many parts of the country.

The Social Democrats were planning a parade through the main streets of the city in October, but the police had already forbidden their demonstration. The evening the edict was issued the regiments stood at alert in the barracks; feeling ran high throughout the entire city. In Wöhrd and Plobenhof there had been a number of riots; in the narrow streets of the central zone thousands of workmen had stormed the Rathaus.

Every now and then there would come a long, shrill whistle from the silent mass, followed at once by the heavy rolling of drums at the guard house.

Among those who came down from the direction of Koenig Street was the workman Wachsmuth. In the vicinity of the Schimmelweis shop he delivered an excited harangue against the former member of the party; his words fell on fruitful soil. A locksmith’s apprentice who had lost some money through the Prudentia violently defamed the character of the bookseller.

The mob gathered before the lighted shop window. Wachsmuth stood by the door, and demanded that the traitor be suspended from a lamp post before this day’s sun had set. A stone flew through the air over their heads, and crashed through the window; pieces of glass flew in all directions. Thereupon a dozen fellows rushed into the shop, exclaiming, “Where is the dirty dog? Let us get at the blood-sucker!” They wanted to teach him a lesson he would never forget.

Before Theresa could open her mouth, scraps of books and newspapers were flying in every direction, and pamphlets were being trampled under foot. A forest of arms were reaching out for the shelves, and bundles of books were falling to the floor, like stacks of cards piled up by a child and blown over by the [154]wind. Zwanziger had taken refuge at the top of the ladder; he was howling. Theresa stood by the till looking like the ghost of ages. Philippina came in through the back door, and eyed what was going on without one visible trace of surprise or discomfort; she merely smiled. Just then the policeman’s whistle blew; in less time than it takes to draw one breath, the rebellious insurgents were beating a hasty retreat.

When Theresa regained consciousness, the shop was empty; and the street in front of the shop was as deserted as it ordinarily is at midnight. After some time, the chief of police came up; he was followed by a crowd of curious people, who stood around and gaped at the scene of devastation.

Jason Philip, seeing what was coming, had left the shop betimes and hidden in his house. He had even locked the front door and was sunk down on a chair, his teeth clappering with vigour and regularity.

He returned at last to the shop, and with heart-rending dignity faced the dispenser of justice, who by this time had put in his appearance. He said: “And this is what I get from people for whom I have sacrificed my money and my blood.”

In giving his testimony as an eyewitness, Zwanziger displayed boastful hardiness in his narration of details. Philippina looked at him with venomous contempt from under the imbecile locks that hung down over her forehead, and murmured: “You disgusting coward!”

When Jason Philip came back from the inn, he said: “To believe that people can be ruled without the knout is a fatal delusion.” With that he stepped into his embroidered slippers—“For tired Father—Consolation.” The slippers had aged, and so had Jason Philip. His beard was streaked with grey.

Theresa took an invoice of the damage the mob had done: she felt that Jason Philip was a ruined man.

As he lay stretched out in bed, Jason Philip said: “The first thing I want to do is to have a serious, heart-to-heart talk with Baron Auffenberg. The Liberal Party is going to take direct action against the impudence of the lower classes, or it is going to lose a constituent.”

“How many quarts of beer did you drink?” asked Theresa from the depths of the pillows.

“Two.”

“You are a liar.”

“Well, possibly I drank three,” replied Jason Philip with a [155]yawn. “But to accuse a man of my standing of lying on such small grounds is an act of perfidy such as only an uncultured woman like yourself could be brought to commit.”

Theresa blew out the candle.

II

Baron Siegmund von Auffenberg had returned from Munich, where he had had an interview with the Minister.

He had also seen a great many other people in the presence of whom he was condescending, jovial, and witty. His amiability was proverbial.

Now he was sitting with a gloomy face by the chimney. Not a one of those many people who had so recently been charmed by his conversational gifts would have recognised him.

The stillness and loneliness pained him. An irresistible force drew him to his wife. He had not seen her for seven weeks, though they had lived in the same house.

He was drawn to her, because he wanted to know whether she had heard anything from that person whose name he did not like to mention, from his son, his enemy, his heir. Not that he wanted to ask his wife any questions: he merely wished to read her face. Since no one in the vicinity had dared say a word to him about his son, he was forced to rely on suppositions and the subtle cunning of his senses at ferreting out information on this kind of subjects. He did not dare betray the curiosity with which he waited for some one to inform him that his hated offspring had at last come to mortal grief.

Six years had elapsed, and still he could hear the insolent voice in which the monstrous remarks were made that had torn him from the twilight of his self-complacency; remarks that distressed him more than any other grief he may have felt in the secrecy of his bed chamber and which completely and forever robbed him of all the joys of human existence.

Dépêche-toi, mon bon garçon,” screeched the parrot.

The Baron arose, and went to his wife’s room. She was terrified when she saw him enter. She was lying on a sofa, her head propped up by cushions, a thick Indian blanket spread out over her legs.

She had a broad, bloated face, thick lips, and unusually big black eyes, in which there was a sickly glare. She had been regarded as a beauty in her young days, though none of this beauty [156]was left, unless it was the freshness of her complexion or the dignified bearing of the born lady of the world.

She sent her maid out of the room, and looked at her husband in silence. She studied the friendly, Jesuitic wrinkles in his face, by virtue of which he managed to conceal his real thoughts. Her anxiety was increased.

“You have not played the piano any to-day,” he began in a sweet voice. “It makes the house seem as though something were missing. I am told that you have acquired perfect technique, and that you have engaged a new teacher. Emilia told me this.”

Emilia was their daughter. She was married to Count Urlich, captain of cavalry.

In the Baroness’s eyes there was an expression such as is found in the eyes of some leashed beast when the butcher approaches, axe in hand. She was tortured by the smoothness of the man from whom she had never once in the last quarter of a century received anything but brutality and scorn, and from whom she had suffered the grossest of humiliations—when no one was listening.

“What do you want, Siegmund?” she asked, with painful effort.

The Baron stepped close up to her, bit his lips, and looked at her for ten or twelve seconds with a fearful expression on his face.

She then seized him by the left arm: “What is the matter with Eberhard?” she cried; “tell me, tell me everything! There is something wrong.”

The Baron, with a gesture of stinging aversion, thrust her hands from him, and turned to go. There was unfathomable coldness in his conduct.

Beside herself with grief, the Baroness made up her mind to tell him, for the first time in her life, of the thousand wrongs that burned within her heart. And she did: “Oh, you monster! Why did Fate bring you into my life? Where is there another woman in the world whose lot has been like mine? Where is the woman who has lived without joy or love or esteem or freedom or peace, a burden to others and to herself? Show me another woman who goes about in silk and satin longing for death. Name me another woman who people think is happy, because the devil, who tortures her without ceasing, deceives them all. Where is there another woman who has been so shamelessly robbed of her children? For is not my daughter the captive and concubine of an insane tuft-hunter? Has not my son been taken from me through the baseness that has been practised against his sister, and the lamentable spectacle afforded him by my own powerlessness? [157]Where, I ask high Heaven, is there another woman so cursed as I have been?”

She threw herself down on her bosom, and burrowed her face into the cushion.

The Baron was surprised at the feverish eloquence of his wife; he had accustomed himself to her mute resignation, as he might have accustomed himself to the regular, monotonous ticking of a hall clock. He was anxious to see what she would do next, how she would develop her excitement; she was a novel phenomenon in his eyes: therefore he remained standing in the door.

But as he stood there in chilly expectancy, his haggard face casting off expressions of scorn and surprise, he suddenly sensed a feeling of weary disgust at himself. It was the disgust of a man whose wishes had always been fulfilled, whose lusts had been satisfied; of a man who has never known other men except as greedy and practical supplicants; of a man who has always been the lord of his friends, the tyrant of his servants, and the centre of all social gatherings; of a man before whom all others yielded, to whom all others bowed; of a man who had never renounced anything but the feeling of renunciation.

“I am not unaware,” he began slowly, just as if he were making a campaign speech to his electors, “I am not unaware that our marriage has not been the source of wholesome blessings. To be convinced of this, your declamation was unnecessary. We married because the circumstances were favourable. We had cause to regret the decision. Is it worth while to investigate the cause now? I am quite devoid of sentimental needs. This is true of me to such an extent that any display of sympathy or exuberance or lack of harshness in other people fills me with mortal antipathy. Unfortunately, my political career obliged me to assume a favourable attitude toward this general tendency of the masses. I played the hypocrite with complete consciousness of what I was doing, and made so much the greater effort to conceal all feeling in my private life.”

“It is easy to conceal something you do not have,” replied the Baroness in a tone of intense bitterness.

“Possibly; but it is a poor display of tact for the rich man to irritate the poor man by flaunting his lavish, spendthrift habits in his face; and this is precisely what you have done. The emphasis you laid on a certain possession of yours, the value of which we will not dispute, provoked my contempt. It gave you pleasure to cry when you saw a cat eating a sparrow. A banal newspaper novel [158]could rob you completely of your spiritual equanimity. You were always thrilled, always in ecstasy, it made not the slightest difference whether the cause of your ecstasy was the first spring violet or a thunder storm, a burnt roast, a sore throat, or a poem. You were always raving, and I became tired of your raving. You did not seem to notice that my distrust toward the expression of these so-called feelings was transformed into coldness, impatience, and hatred. And then came the music. What was at first a diversion for you, of which one might approve or disapprove, became in time the indemnity for an active life and all the defects of your character. You gave yourself up to music somewhat as a prostitute gives herself up to her first loyal lover”—the Baroness twitched as if some one had struck her across the back with a horsewhip—“yes, like a prostitute,” he repeated, turning paler and paler, his eyes glistening. “Then it was that your whole character came to light; one saw how spoiled you were, how helpless, how undisciplined. You clung like a worm to uncertain and undetermined conditions. If I have become a devil in your eyes, it is your music that has made me so. Now you know it.”

“So that is it,” whispered the Baroness with faltering breath. “Did you leave me anything but my music? Have you not raged like a tiger? But it is not true,” she exclaimed, “you are not so vicious, otherwise I myself would be a lie in the presence of the Eternal Judge, and that I had borne children by you would be contrary to nature. Leave me, go away, so that I may believe that it is not true!”

The Baron did not move.

In indescribable excitement, and as quickly as her obese body would permit, the Baroness leaped to her feet: “I know you better,” she said with trembling lips, “I have been able to foreshadow what is driving you about; I have seen what makes you so restless. You are not the man you pretend to be; you are not the cold, heartless creature you seem. In your breast there is a spot where you are vulnerable, and there you have been struck. You are bleeding, man! If we all, I and your daughter and your brothers and your friends and your cowardly creatures, are as indifferent and despicable to you as so many flies, there is one who has been able to wound you; this fact is gnawing at your heart. And do you know why he was in a position to wound you? Because you loved him. Look me in the eye, and tell me that I lie. You loved him—your son—you idolised him. The fact that he has repudiated your love, that he found it of no value to him, the love [159]that blossomed on the ruined lives of his mother and sister, this is the cause of your sorrow. It is written across your brow. And that you are suffering, and suffering for this reason, constitutes my revenge.”

The Baron did not say a word; his lower jaw wagged from left to right as though he were chewing something; his face seemed to have dried up; he looked as though he had suddenly become older by years. The Baroness, driven from her reserve, stood before him like an enraged sibyl. He turned in silence, and left the room.

“My suffering is her revenge,” he murmured on leaving the room. Once alone, he stood for a while perfectly absent-minded. “Am I really suffering?” he said to himself.

He turned off a gas jet that was burning above the book case. “Yes, I am suffering,” he confessed reluctantly; “I am suffering.” He walked along the wall with dragging feet, and entered a room in which a light was burning. He felt the same satiety and disgust at himself that he had experienced a few moments earlier. This time it was caused by the sight of the hand-carved furniture, the painted porcelain, the precious tapestries, and the oil paintings in their gold frames.

He longed for simpler things; he longed for barren walls, a cot of straw, parsimony, discipline. It was not the first time that his exhausted organism had sought consolation in the thought of a monastic life. This Protestant, this descendent of a long line of Protestants, had long been tired of Protestantism. He regarded the Roman Church as the more wholesome and merciful.

But the transformation of his religious views was his own carefully guarded secret. And secret it had to remain until he, the undisciplined son of his mother, could atone for his past misdeeds. He decided to wait until this atonement had been effected. Just as a hypnotist gains control of his medium by inner composure, so he thought he could hasten the coming of this event by conceding it absolute supremacy over his mind.

III

When Eberhard von Auffenberg left the paternal home to strike out for himself, he was as helpless as a child that has lost the hand of its adult companion in a crowd.

He put the question to himself: What am I going to do? He had never worked. He had studied at various universities as so [160]many other young men have studied, that is, he had managed to pass a few examinations by the skin of his teeth.

He had had so little to do in life, and was so utterly devoid of ambition, that he looked upon a really ambitious individual as being insane. Anything that was at all practical was filled with insurmountable obstacles. His freedom, in other words, placed him in a distressing state of mind and body.

It would not have been difficult for him to find people who would have been willing to advance him money on his name. But he did not wish to incur debts of which his father might hear. If he did, his solemn solution of an unbearable relation would have amounted to nothing.

He could, of course, count on his share of the estate; and he did count on it, notwithstanding the fact that to do so was to speculate on the death of his own father. He stood in urgent need of a confidential friend; and this friend he thought he had found in Herr Carovius.

“Ah, two people such as you and I will not insist upon unnecessary formalities,” said Herr Carovius. “All that I need is your face, and your signature to a piece of paper. We will deduct ten per cent at the very outset, so that my expenses may be covered, for money is dear at present. I will give you real estate bonds; they are selling to-day at eighty-five, unfortunately. The Exchange is a trifle spotty, but a little loss like that won’t mean anything to you.”

For the ten thousand marks that he owed, Eberhard received seven thousand, six hundred and fifty, cash. In less than a year he was again in need of money, and asked Herr Carovius for twenty thousand. Herr Carovius said he did not have that much ready money, and that he would have to approach a lender.

Eberhard replied sulkily that he could do about that as he saw fit, but he must not mention his name to a third party. A few days later Herr Carovius told a tale, of hair-splitting negotiations: there was a middleman who demanded immodest guarantees, including certified notes. He swore that he knew nothing about that kind of business, and that he had undertaken to supply the needed loan only because of his excessive affection for his young friend.

Eberhard was unmoved. The eel-like mobility of the man with the squeaking voice did not please him; not at all; as a matter of fact he began to dread him; and this dread increased in intensity and fearfulness in proportion to the degree in which he felt he was becoming more and more entangled in his net.

[161]

The twenty thousand marks were procured at an interest of thirty-five per cent. At first Eberhard refused to sign the note. He would not touch it until Herr Carovius had assured him that it was not to be converted into currency, that it could be redeemed with new loans at any time, and that it would lie in his strong-box as peacefully as the bones of the Auffenberg ancestors rested in their vaults. Eberhard, tired of this flood of words, yielded.

Every time he signed his name he had a feeling that the danger into which he was walking was becoming greater. But he was too lazy to defend himself; he was too aristocratic to interest himself in petty explanations; and he was simply not capable of living on a small income.

The endorsed notes were presented as a matter of warning; new loans settled them; new loans made new notes necessary; these were extended; the extensions were costly; an uncanny individual shielded in anonymity was taken into confidence. He bought up mortgages, paid for them in diamonds instead of money, and sold depreciated stocks. The debts having reached a certain height, Herr Carovius demanded that Eberhard have his life insured. Eberhard had to do it; the premium was very high. In the course of three years Eberhard had lost all perspective; he could no longer survey his obligations. The money he received he spent in the usual fashion, never bothered himself about the terms on which he had secured it, and had no idea where all this was leading to and where it was going to end. He turned in disgust from Herr Carovius’s clumsy approaches, malicious gibes, and occasional threats.

What an insipid smile he had! How fatuous, and then again how profound, his conversation could be! He took upon himself the impudent liberty of running in and out at Eberhard’s whenever he felt like it. He bored him with his discussion of philosophic systems, or with miserable gossip about his neighbours. He watched him day and night.

He followed him on the street. He would come up to him and cry out, “Herr Baron, Herr Baron!” and wave his hat. His solicitude for Eberhard’s health resembled that of a gaoler. One evening Eberhard went to bed with a fever. Herr Carovius ran to the physician, and then spent the whole night by the bedside of the patient, despite his entreaties to be left alone. “Would it not be well for me to write to your mother?” he asked, with much show of affection on the next morning when he noticed that the fever had not fallen. Eberhard sprang from his bed with an [162]exclamation of rage, and Herr Carovius left immediately and unceremoniously.

Herr Carovius loved to complain. He ran around the table, exclaiming that he was ruined. He brought out his cheque book, added up the figures, and cried: “Two more years of this business, dear Baron, and I will be ready for the poor house.” He demanded security and still more securities; he asked for renewed promises. He submitted an account of the total sum, and demanded an endorsement. But it was impossible for any one to make head or tail out of this welter of interest, commissions, indemnities, and usury. Herr Carovius himself no longer knew precisely how matters stood; for a consortium of subsequent indorsers had been formed behind his back, and they were exploiting his zeal on behalf of the young Baron for all it was worth.

“What is this I hear about you and the women?” asked Herr Carovius one day. “What about a little adventure?” He had noticed that the Baron had a secret; and it enraged him to think that he could not get at the bottom of this amorous mystery.

He made this discovery one day as Eberhard was packing his trunk. “Where are you going, my dear friend?” he crowed in exclamatory dismay. Eberhard replied that he was going to Switzerland. “To Switzerland? What are you going to do there? I am not going to let you go,” said Herr Carovius. Eberhard gave him one cold stare. Herr Carovius tried beseeching, begging, pleading. It was in vain; Eberhard left for Switzerland. He wanted to be alone; he became tired of being alone, and returned; he went off again; he came back again, and had the conversation with Eleanore that robbed him of his last hope. Then he went to Munich, and took up with the spiritists.

Spiritual and mental ennui left him without a vestige of the power of resistance. An inborn tendency to scepticism did not prevent him from yielding to an influence which originally was farther removed from the inclinations of his soul than the vulgar bustle of everyday life. Benumbed as his critical judgment now was, he went prospecting for the fountain of life in a zone where dreams flourish and superficial enchantment predominates.

Herr Carovius hired a spy who never allowed Eberhard to get out of his sight. He reported regularly to his employer on the movements of the unique scion of the Auffenberg line. If Eberhard needed money, he was forced to go to Carovius, who would stand on the platform for an hour waiting for the Baron’s train to come in; and once Eberhard had got out of his carriage, Herr [163]Carovius excited the laughter of the railroad officials by his affectionate care for his protégé. Delighted to see him again, he would talk the sheerest nonsense, and trip around about his young friend in groundless glee.

It seemed after all this that Herr Carovius really loved the Baron; and he did.

He loved him as a gambler loves his cards, or as the fire loves the coals. He idealised him; he dreamt about him; he liked to breathe the air that Eberhard breathed; he saw a chosen being in him; he imputed all manner of heroic deeds to him, and was immeasurably pleased at his aristocratic offishness.

He loved him with hatred, with the joy of annihilation. This hate-love became in time the centre of his thoughts and feelings. In it was expressed everything that separated him from other men and at the same time drew him to them. It controlled him unconditionally, until a second, equally fearful and ridiculous passion became affiliated with it.

IV

Daniel had hesitated for a long while about making use of the letter of introduction from Frau von Erfft. Gertrude then took to begging him to go to the Baroness. “If I go merely to please you, my action will avenge itself on you,” he said.

“If I understood why you hesitate, I would not ask you,” she replied in a tone of evident discomfort.

“I found so much there in Erfft,” said he, “so much human kindness that was new to me; I dislike the idea of seeing some ulterior motive back of it, or of putting one there myself. Do you understand now?” She nodded.

“But must is stronger than may,” he concluded, and went.

The Baroness became quite interested in his case. The position of second Kapellmeister at the City Theatre was vacant, and she tried to have Daniel appointed to it. She was promised that it would be given to him; but the usual intrigues were spun behind her back; and when she urged that the matter be settled immediately and in favour of her candidate, she was fed on dissembling consolation. She was quite surprised to be brought face to face with hostile opposition, which seemed to spring from every side as if by agreement against the young musician. Not a single one of his enemies, however, allowed themselves to be seen, and no one heard from by correspondence. It was the first time that she [164]had come in conflict with the world in a business way; there was something touching in her indignation at the display of cowardly fraud.

Finally, after a long, and for her humiliating, interview with that chief of cosmopolitan brokers, Alexander Dörmaul, Daniel’s engagement for the coming spring was agreed upon.

In the meantime the Baroness took lessons from Daniel. She expressed a desire to familiarise herself with the standard piano compositions, and to be given a really practical introduction to their meaning and the right method of interpreting them.

It was long before she became accustomed to his cold and morose sternness. She had the feeling that he was pulling her out of a nice warm bath into a cold, cutting draught. She longed to return to her twilights, her ecstatic moods, her melancholy reveries.

Once he explained to her in a thoroughly matter-of-fact way the movement of a fugue. She dared to burst out with an exclamation of joy. He shut the piano with a bang, and said: “Adieu, Baroness.” He did not return until she had written him a letter asking him to do so.

“Ah, it is lost effort, a waste of time,” he thought, though he did not fail to appreciate the Baroness’s human dignity. The eight hours a month were a complete torture to him. And yet he found that twenty marks an hour was too much; he said so. The suspicion that she was giving him alms made him exceedingly disagreeable.

A servant became familiar with him. Daniel took him by the collar and shook him until he was blue in the face. He was as wiry as a jaguar, and much to be feared when angry. The Baroness had to discharge the servant.

Once the Baroness showed him an antique of glass work made of mountain crystal and beautifully painted. As he was looking at it in intense admiration, he let it fall; it broke into many pieces. He was as humiliated as a whipped school boy; the old Baroness had to use her choicest powers of persuasion to calm him. He then played the whole of Schumann’s “Carneval” for her, a piece of music of which she was passionately fond.

Every forenoon you could see him hastening across the bridge. He always walked rapidly; his coat tails flew. He always had the corners of his mouth drawn up and his lower lip clenched between his teeth. He was always looking at the ground; in the densest crowds he seemed to be alone. He bent the rim of his [165]hat down so that it covered his forehead. His dangling arms resembled the stumpy wings of a penguin.

At times he would stop, stand all alone, and listen, so to speak, into space without seeing. When he did this, street boys would gather about him and grin. Once upon a time a little boy said to his mother: “Tell me, mother, who is that old, old manikin over there?”

This is the picture we must form of him at this time of his life, just before his years of real storm and stress: he is in a hurry; he seems so aloof, sullen, distant, and dry; he is whipped about the narrow circle of his everyday life by fancy and ambition; he is so young and yet so old. This is the light in which we must see him.

V

The apartment of Daniel and Gertrude had three rooms. Two opened on the street, and one, the bed room, faced a dark, gloomy court.

With very limited means, but with diligence and pleasure, Gertrude had done all in her power to make the apartment as comfortable as possible. Though the ceilings were low and the walls almost always damp, the rooms seemed after all quite home-like and attractive.

In Daniel’s study the piano was the chief object of furniture; it dominated the space. Fuchsias in the window gave a pleasing frame to the general picture of penury. His mother had given him the oil painting of his father. From its place above the sofa the stern countenance of Gottfried Nothafft looked down upon the son. It seemed at times that the face of the father turned toward the mask of Zingarella as if to ask who and what it was. The mask hung on the other side of the room from the oil painting; its unbroken smile was lost in the shadows.

Gertrude had to do all the household work; they could not afford a servant. In the years of Daniel’s absence, however, she had learned to copy notes. Herr Seelenfromm, assistant to the apothecary Pflaum, had taught her. He was a cousin of Frau Rübsam, and she had become acquainted with him through Eleanore. In his leisure hours he composed waltzes and marches, and dedicated them to the princes and princesses of the royal family. He also dedicated one to Gertrude. It was entitled “Feenzauber,” and was a gavotte.

[166]

When Daniel learned of her accomplishment, he was so astonished that he threw his hands above his head. The rare being looked up at him intoxicated with joy. “I will help you,” she said, and copied his notes for him.

When they walked along the streets she would close her eyes at times. A melody floated by her which she had never before been able to understand. As she bought her vegetables and tried to drive a bargain with the old market woman, her soul was full of song.

Certain tones and combinations of tones took on definite shapes in her mind. The bass B of the fourth octave appeared to her as a heavily veiled woman; the middle E resembled a young man who was stretching his arms. In chords, harmonies, and harmonic transformations these figures were set in motion, the motion depending on the character of the composition: a procession of mourning figures between clouds and stars; wild animals spurred on by the huntsmen who were riding them; maidens throwing flowers from the windows of a palace; men and women plunging into an abyss in one mass of despairing humanity; weeping men and laughing women, wrestlers and ball players, dancing couples and grape pickers. The pause appealed to her as a man who climbs naked from a deep subterranean shaft, carrying a burning torch in his hand; the trill seemed like a bird that anxiously flutters about its nest.

All of Daniel’s compositions came close to her heart; all his pictures were highly coloured; his figures seemed to be full of blood. If they remained dead and distant, her sympathy vanished; her face became tired and empty. Without having spoken a word with each other, Daniel would know that he was on the wrong track. But all this bound him to the young woman with hoops of steel; he came to regard her as the creature given him of God to act as his living conscience and infallible if mute judge.

He hated her when her feelings remained unmoved. If he at last came to see, after much introspection, that she was right, then he would have liked to fall down and worship the unknown power that was so inexorable in pointing him the way.

Spindler had a beautiful harp which he had bequeathed to Daniel in his will. It had remained in Ansbach in the possession of the old lady who kept house for him. Daniel had forgotten all about the harp. After his marriage he had it sent to him.

He kept it in the living room; Gertrude was fond of looking at it. It enticed her. One day she sat down and tried to draw tones from its strings. She touched the strings very gently, and [167]was charmed with the melody that came from them. Gradually she learned the secret; she discovered the law. An innate talent made the instrument submissive to her; she was able to express on it all the longings and emotions she had experienced in her dark and lonely hours.

She generally played very softly; she never tried intricate melodies, for the harp was adapted to the expression of simple, dream-like harmonies. The tones were wafted out into the hall and up the stairs; they greeted Daniel as he entered the old house.

When he came into the room, Gertrude was sitting in a corner by the stove, the harp between her knees. She smiled mysteriously to herself; her hands, like strange beings loosed from her body, sought chords and melodies that were his, and which she was trying to translate to her own world of dreams.

VI

Her command of language was more defective now than ever. She was seized with painful astonishment when she noticed that in matters of daily intercourse Daniel’s mind was not able to penetrate the veil behind which she lived.

He said to himself: she is too heavy. He was dumbfounded at her conduct, and displeased with it.

“The gloomy house oppresses you,” he said in a tone of ill humour, when she smiled in her helpless way.

“Let us run a race,” he said to her one day as they were taking a walk through the country. An old tree in the distance that had been struck by lightning was to be their objective.

They ran as fast as their feet could carry them. At a distance of about ten metres from the tree, Gertrude collapsed. He carried her over to the meadow.

“How heavy you are,” he said.

“Too heavy for you?” she asked with wide-opened eyes. He shrugged his shoulders.

Then she slipped out of his embrace, sprang to her feet, and ran with remarkable swiftness a distance that was twice as long as the one he had staked off; she did not fall; she did not want to fall; she dared not.

Breathing heavily and pale as a corpse, she waited until he came up. But he had no tenderness for her now; he merely scolded. Arm in arm they walked on. Gertrude felt for his hand; he gave it to her, and she pressed it to her bosom.

[168]

Daniel was terrified as he looked into her face, and saw her thoughts written there as if in letters of fire: We belong to each other for time and eternity.

That was her confession of faith.

VII

She lay wide awake until late at night. She heard him go into the kitchen and get a drink of water and then return to his room. He had forbidden her to come to the door and ask whether he was not going to bed soon: she was not to do this, it made no difference how late it was.

Then he lay beside her, his head on his arm, and looked at her with eyes that had lost their earthly, temporal glow. Man, where are your eyes anyway, she would have liked to exclaim. And yet she knew where they were; she knew, too, that it is dangerous to disturb a somnambulist by calling to him.

One night he had found it impossible to do his work. He sat down on the edge of the bed and stared into the light of the lamp for an hour or so, hating himself. Gertrude saw how he raged at himself; how he really fed, nourished his lack of confidence in himself. But she could not say anything.

A publisher had returned one of his manuscripts with a courteous but depressing conventional rejection slip. Daniel spoke disparagingly of his talents; he had lost hope in his future; he was bitter at the world; he felt that he was condemned to a life of unceasing obscurity.

The only thing she could do was look at him; merely look at him.

He became tired of having her look at him; a fresh, vigorous remark would have served his purpose much better, he thought.

She measured her work and his not in terms of reward; she did not seek for connection of any kind between privation and hope; nor did she measure Daniel’s love in terms of tender expressions and embraces. She waited for him with much patience. In time her patience irritated him. “A little bit more activity and insistence would not hurt you,” he said one day, and thrust her timid, beseeching hands from him.

He saw himself cared for: He had a home, a person who prepared his meals, washed his clothes, and faithfully attended to his other household needs. He should have been grateful. He was, too, but he could not show it. He was grateful when he was [169]alone, but in Gertrude’s presence his gratitude turned to defiance. If he was away from home, he thought with pleasure of his return; he pictured Gertrude’s joy at seeing him again. But when he was with her, he indulged in silent criticism, and wanted to have everything about her different.

The judge’s wife on the first floor complained that Gertrude did not speak to her. “Be kind to your neighbours,” he remarked with the air of a professional scold. The next Sunday they took a walk, on which they met the judge’s wife. Gertrude spoke to her: “Well, you don’t need to fall on her neck,” he mumbled. She thought for a long while of how she might speak to people without offending them and without annoying Daniel. She was embarrassed; she was afraid of Daniel’s criticism.

On such days she would put too much salt in the soup, everything went wrong, and in her diligent attempt to be punctual she lost much time. She was fearfully worried when he got up from the table and went to his room without saying a word. She would sit perfectly still and listen; she was frightened when he went to the piano to try a motif. When he again entered her room, she looked into his face with the tenseness of a soul in utter anguish. Then it suddenly came about that he would sit down by her side and caress her. He told her all about his life, his home, his father, his mother. If she could only have heard each of his words twice! If she could only have drunk in the expression in his eyes! They were filled with peace; his nervous hands lay in quiet on his knees when he spoke to her in this way on these subjects. His twitching, angular face, weather-beaten by the storms of life, took on an expression of sorrow that was most becoming to it.

When she had a headache or was tired, he expressed his anxiety for her in touching tones. He would go about the house on tiptoes, and close the doors with infinite care. If a dog barked on the street, he rushed to the window and looked out, enraged at the beast. When she retired, he would help her undress, and bring her whatever she needed.

It was also strange that he disliked the idea of leaving her alone. There was something child-like in his restlessness when he was at home and she was out. He pictured her surrounded by grievous dangers; he would have liked to lock her up and hold her a captive, so as to be sure that she was quite safe. This made her all the weaker and more dependent upon him, while he was like a man who presses what he has to his heart, plagued with the thought [170]that by some mischance it might escape, and yet clings to it also lest he be disturbed by the thought of another more precious possession he loved long since and lost a while.

Once he came to Gertrude while she was playing the harp, threw his arms about her, looked into her face with a wild, gloomy expression, and stammered: “I love you, I love you, I do.” It was the first time he had spoken these eternal words. She grew pale, first from joy and then from fear; for there was more of hatred than of love in his voice.

VIII

He felt that association with congenial men would help him over many a dark hour. But when he set out to look for these men, the city became a desert and a waste place.

Herr Seelenfromm came to his house now and then. Daniel could not endure the timid man who admired him so profoundly, and who, in the bottom of his heart, had an equal amount of respect for Gertrude. The young architect who had been employed at the St. Sebaldus Church while it was being renovated, and who loved music, had won Daniel’s esteem. But he had a repulsive habit of smacking his tongue when he talked. Daniel and he discussed the habit, and parted the worst of enemies. His association with a certain Frenchman by the name of Rivière was of longer duration. Rivière was spending some time in the city, looking up material for a life of Caspar Hauser. He had made his acquaintance at the Baroness von Auffenberg’s, and taken a liking to him because he reminded him of Friedrich Benda.

M. Rivière loved to hear Daniel improvise on the piano. He knew so little German that he merely smiled at Daniel’s caustic remarks; and if he became violently enraged, M. Rivière merely stared at his mouth. He had a wart on his cheek, and wore a straw hat summer and winter. He cooked his own meals, for it was an obsession of his that people wanted to poison him because he was writing a life of Caspar Hauser.

When Herr Seelenfromm and M. Rivière came in of a Sunday evening, Daniel would reach for a volume of E. T. A. Hoffmann or Clemens Brentano, and read from them until he was hoarse. He tried in this way to find peace in a strange world; for he did not wish to weep at the sight of human beings who seemed perfectly at ease.

Gertrude looked at him, and put this question to herself: How [171]is it that a man to whom music is life and the paradise of his heart can allow himself to be so enveloped in sorrow, so beclouded by gloom? She understood the smarting pains in which he composed; she had a vague idea of the labyrinthine complications of his inner fate; these she grasped. But her own soul was filled with joyless compassion; she wished with all her power to plant greater faith and more happiness in his heart.

She meditated on the best means of carrying on her spiritual campaign. It occurred to her that he had had more of both faith and happiness at the time he was going with Eleanore. She saw Eleanore now in a quite different light. She recalled that Eleanore was not merely her sister but the creator of her happiness. Nor was she unmindful of the fact that through the transformation of her being, love and enlightenment had arisen to take the place of her former suspicion and ignorance.

She ascribed to Eleanore all those powers in which she had formerly been lacking: general superiority and stimulating vigour; an ability to play that lent charm to drudgery and made the hard things of life easy; brightness in conversation and delicacy of touch. In her lonely broodings she came to the conclusion that Eleanore was the only one who could help her. She went straightway to her father’s house to find out why Eleanore so rarely came to see her.

“I don’t like to come; Daniel is so unkind to me,” said Eleanore.

Gertrude replied that he was unkind to everybody, including her herself, and that she must not pay any attention to this; for she knew full well that Daniel liked her—and perhaps he himself was offended because she never called.

Eleanore thought it all over, and from then on visited her sister more frequently. But if it did not look as though Daniel did everything in his power to avoid her, this much was certain: he never said a word to her more than human decency required, and was an expert at finding reasons why he had to leave the room when she was there. Eleanore was gainfully conscious of this; it hurt her.

IX

One morning Gertrude returned from the market, carrying a heavy basket full of things she had bought. As she came in the front door she heard Daniel playing. She noticed at once that he was not improvising; that he was playing a set piece, the tones of which were quite unfamiliar to her.

[172]

As she came up the steps, the basket no longer seemed like a burden. She went quietly into the living room and listened. Something drew her closer and closer to the piano. Daniel had not noticed that she had entered the room and sat down. He was wholly lost in what he was doing; he never took his rapt and wondering eyes from the music before him.

It was his draft of the “Harzreise im Winter.” For a year and a half, since the time he had composed it in Ansbach, he had never again thought of it; it had lain untouched. Suddenly the fire of creation had flamed up in him; he could once more bind the incoherent, and make what had been merely implied or indicated take definite shape.

He would play a movement again and again, trying to connect it with what went before or came after; he would take his pencil and write in a few notes here or there; then he would try it again, and smile to himself in a strange, confused, and yet enchanted way, when he saw that the motif was complete, perfect. Gertrude was drawn still closer to him. In her awe-struck admiration she crouched on the floor beside him. She would have liked to creep into the piano, and give her soul the opportunity it sought to express itself in the tones that came from the strings. When Daniel had finished, she pressed her head to his hips, and reached her hot hands up to him.

Daniel was terrified; for he recalled instantaneously another occasion on which another woman had done precisely the same thing. His eye involuntarily fell on the mask of Zingarella. He was not conscious of the connection; there was no visible bridge between the two incidents; Gertrude’s face was too unlike that of its momentary prototype. But with a feeling of awe he detected a mysterious liaison between then and now: he imagined he could hear a voice calling to him from the distant shores of yonder world.

He laid his hand on Gertrude’s hair. She interpreted the gesture as a visible sign that his promise had been fulfilled; that this work belonged to her; that he had created it for her, had taken it from her heart, and was returning it to the heart from whence it came.

X

Zierfuss, the music dealer, had sent out invitations to a concert. Daniel did not feel like going. Gertrude asked Eleanore if [173]she would not go with her. Daniel called for them after the concert.

Eleanore told him on the way home that she had received a letter for him that afternoon bearing a London stamp.

“From Benda?” asked Daniel quickly.

“It is Benda’s handwriting,” replied Eleanore. “I was going to bring it to you when Gertrude called for me. Wait out in the front of the house, and I’ll go in and get it.”

“Take dinner with us this evening, Eleanore,” said Gertrude, looking rather uncertainly at Daniel.

“If it is agreeable to Daniel....”

“No nonsense, Eleanore, of course it is agreeable to me,” said Daniel.

A quarter of an hour later Daniel was sitting by the lamp reading Benda’s letter.

The first thing his friend told him was that he was to join a scientific expedition to the Congo, and that his party would follow almost exactly the same route that had been taken by the Stanley Expedition when it set out to look for Emin Pascha.

Benda wrote: “This letter then, my dear friend, is written to say good-bye for a number of years, perhaps forever. I feel as if I had been born anew. I have eyes again; and the ideas that fill my brain are no longer condemned to be stifled in the morass of imprisoned colleagues, loyal and inimical. To labour in nature’s laboratory will make me forget the wrongs I have suffered, the injustice that has been done me. Hunger and thirst, disease and danger will of course have to be endured; they are the effects of those crimes of civilisation that spare the body while they poison the mind and soul.”

Further on Benda wrote: “I am bound to my home by only two people, my mother and you. When I think of you, a feeling of pride comes over me; every hour we spent together is indelibly stamped on my heart. But there is one delicate point: it is a point of conscience. Call it, so far as I am concerned, a chip; call it anything you please. The fact is I have had a Don Quixotic run in, and I have got to defend myself.”

Daniel shook his head and read on. Benda knew nothing of his marriage. He did not even seem to know that Daniel and Gertrude had been engaged. Or if he had known it he had forgotten it. Daniel could hardly believe his own eyes when he came to the following passage: “My greatest anxiety always lay in the fear that you would pass Eleanore by. I was too cowardly [174]to tell you how I felt on this point, and I have reproached myself ever since for my cowardice. Now that I am leaving I tell you how I feel about this matter, though not exactly with the sensation of performing a belated task.”

For Heaven’s sake, thought Daniel, what is he trying to do to me?

“I have often thought about it in quiet hours; it gave me the same feeling of satisfaction that I have in a chemical experiment, when the reactions of the various elements take place as they should: what Eleanore says is your word; what you feel is Eleanore’s law.”

He is seeing ghosts, cried Daniel, he is tangling up the threads of my life. What does he mean? Why does he do it?

“Don’t neglect what I am telling you! Don’t crush that wonderful flower! The girl is a rare specimen; the rarest I know. You need your whole heart with all its powers of love and kindness to appreciate her. But if my words reach you too late, please tear this letter into shreds, and get the whole idea out of your mind as soon and completely as possible.”

“Come, let’s eat,” said Gertrude, as she entered the room with a dish of pickled herring.

Eleanore was sitting on the sofa looking at Daniel quizzically. He was lost in thought.

Daniel looked up, and studied the two women as if they were the figures of a hallucination: the one in dark red, the other in dark blue; minor and major keys. The two stood side by side, and yet so far removed from each other: they were the two poles of his world.

XI

“What has Benda got to say?” asked Gertrude hesitatingly.

“Just think, he is going to Africa,” replied Daniel, with a voice as if he were lying. “Curious, isn’t it? I suppose he is on the ocean by this time.”

With an expression on his face that clearly betrayed the fact that he was afraid the sisters might somehow divine or suspect the parts of the letter he wished to keep to himself, he read as much of it as he dared to them.

“Why don’t you read on?” asked Eleanore, when he paused.

She bent over the table, filled with a burning curiosity to know the whole contents of the letter, and while so doing her hair [175]became entangled in the metal bric-a-brac of the hanging lamp. Gertrude got up and liberated her.

Daniel had laid his hand over the letter, and was looking at Eleanore threateningly. His eye and that of the captured girl chanced to meet; she struggled between a feeling of amusement and one of annoyance. It gave Daniel an uncomfortable feeling to have her eyes so close to his.

“Don’t you know that that is not polite?” he asked. “We have some secrets, probably, Benda and I.”

“I merely thought that Benda had sent me his greetings,” replied Eleanore, and blushed with embarrassment.

Daniel then held the letter above the chimney of the lamp, waited until it had caught fire, and then threw it on the floor, where it burned up.

“It is late, and father is already waiting,” said Eleanore, after they had eaten in great haste.

“I will take you home,” declared Daniel. Surprised by such unusual gallantry, Eleanore looked at him with amazement. He at once became moody; she was still more surprised. “I can go home alone, Daniel,” she said in a tone of noticeable seriousness, “you do not need to put yourself out for me.”

“Put myself out? What do you mean? Are you one of those people who can’t keep a tune, and step on the pedal when their sentiment runs short?”

Eleanore had nothing to say.

“Put your great coat on, Daniel,” said Gertrude in the hall, “it is cold and windy out.”

She wanted to help him on with it, but he threw it in the clothes press; he was irritated.

He walked along at Eleanore’s side through the deserted streets.

She had already put the key in the front door, when she turned around, looked up in a most unhappy way, and said: “Daniel, what in the world is the matter with you? When I look at you, a feeling of anguish and distress comes over me. What have I done that you should act so disagreeably toward me?”

“Oh, forget it, think about something else, don’t mention the subject any more,” said Daniel, in a rough, rude voice. But the glance she fixed on him was so stern and unpitying, so testing and so un-girl-like, so strong and so bold, that he felt his heart grow softer. “Let us take a little walk,” he said.

For a long time they paced back and forth in perfect silence. Then she asked him what he was working on now. He made [176]cautious, non-committal replies, and then suddenly he was overwhelmed with a flood of words. He remarked that he felt at times as if he were struggling with goblins in the dark. What gushed forth from the deepest depths of his soul, he said, was somehow or other too noisy and blatant, and died in his hands while he was trying to create an appropriate form for it. He said he had no success with anything unless it was something disembodied, incorporeal, the melody of which had thus far found an echo in no human breast. Therefore he seemed to be groping around, without anchorage, after sprites from the land of nowhere. And the more domineering the order was to which he subjected his mind and his fancy, the more lost and hopeless his earthly self seemed to be as it drifted in the chaos of the everyday world. He remarked that heaven was in his dreams, hell in his association with men. And how dead everything about him seemed to be! It was all like a cemetery; it was a cemetery. His doughtiest life was gradually transformed into a shadow and lacerated into a monstrosity. But that he was aggrieved at men he felt full well; for they lived more innocent lives than he, and they were more useful.

“But you have some one to hold to,” said Eleanore, realising that she was skating on thin ice, “you have Gertrude.”

To this he made no reply. She waited for him to say something, and when she saw that he did not care to make a reply of any kind, she smiled at him as if in a last attempt to get him to tell her what was the matter. Then all peace of mind vanished from her soul—and her face. Every time they passed a street lamp she turned her head to one side.

“She is after all in the presence of God your wife,” said Eleanore gently and with remarkable solemnity.

Daniel looked up and listened as if greatly abashed. Speaking out into the wind he said: “The over-tone, Eleanore; a bird twittering in the bush. In the presence of God my wife! But in the roots the bass is howling; it is an infernal tremolo; do you hear it?”

He laughed as if mad, and his face, with his spotted teeth, was turned toward her. She took him by the arm, and implored him to straighten up.

He pressed her hand to his forehead, and said: “The letter, Eleanore, the letter ...!”

“Now you see, Daniel, I knew it all along. What was in the letter?”

“I dare not tell you, otherwise my sweet over-tone will take a [177]somersault, become mingled with the gloomy bass, and be lost forever.”

Eleanore looked at him in amazement; he had never seemed so much like a fool to her in her life.

“Listen,” he said, putting his arm in hers, “I have composed a song; here is the way it goes.” He sang a melody he had written for one of Eichendorff’s poems. In it there was a tender sadness. “While everything is still and everybody asleep, my soul greets the eternal light, and rests like a ship in the harbour.”

They had again reached the front door; they had been strolling back and forth for two hours.

He had an unpleasant feeling when he went up the steps of his apartment.

Gertrude was sitting where he had left her: by the clothes press. She had wrapped his top coat about her legs, her back was leaning against the wall, her head had sunk on her shoulder; she was asleep. She was not awakened by his coming. Beside her stood the candle, now burned down to the edge of the metal holder; it was spluttering. The light from it fell on Gertrude’s face, lighting it up irregularly and lending it a painful expression.

“In the presence of God my wife,” murmured Daniel. He did not waken Gertrude until the candle had gone out. Then he did; she got up, and the two went off in darkness to their bed room.

[178]THE GLASS CASE BREAKS

I

Daniel wished to see Eleanore skate; he went out to the Maxfeld at a time he knew she would be there.

He saw her quite soon, and was delighted when she glided by; but when she was lost in the crowd, he frowned. High school boys followed her with cowardly and obtrusive forwardness. One student, who wore a red cap, fell flat on his stomach as he bowed to her.

She ran into two army officers, or they into her; this put an end for the time being to the inspired grace of her movement. When she started off a second time, drawing a beautiful circle, she saw Daniel and came over to him. She smiled in a confidential way, chatted with him, glided backwards in a circle about him, laughed at his impatience because she would not stand still, threw her muff over to him, asked him to throw it back, and, with arms raised to catch it, cut an artistic figure on the ice.

The picture she offered filled Daniel with reverence for the harmony of her being.

II

They frequently took walks after sunset out to the suburbs and up to the castle. Gertrude was pleased to see that Daniel and Eleanore were good friends again.

One time when they walked up the castle hill, Eleanore told Daniel that there was where she had taken leave of Eberhard von Auffenberg. She could recall everything he said, and she confessed with marked candour what she had said in reply. The story about the old herb woman Daniel did not find amusing. He stopped, and said: “Child, don’t have anything to do with spirits! Never interfere with your lovely reality.”

“Don’t talk in that way,” replied Eleanore. “I dislike it. The tone of your voice and the expression on your face make me feel as if I were a woman of worldly habits.”

[179]

They went into the Church of St. Sebaldus, and revelled in the beauty of the bronze castings on the tomb of the saint. They also went to the Germanic Museum, where they loved to wander around in the countless deserted passage-ways, stopped and studied the pictures, and never tired of looking at the old toys, globes, kitchen utensils, and armour.

Eleanore’s greatest pleasure, however, was derived from sauntering through the narrow alleys. She like to stand in an open door, and look into the court at some weather-beaten statue; to stand before the window of an antique shop, and study the brocaded objects, silver chains, rings with gaudy stones, engraved plates, and rare clocks. All manner of roguish ideas came to her mind, and around every wish she wove a fairy tale. The meagrest incident sufficed to send her imagination to the land of wonders, just as if the fables and legends that the people had been passing on from hearth to hearth for centuries were leading a life of reality over there.

The tailor sitting with crossed legs on his table; the smith hammering the red-hot iron; the juggler who made the rounds of the city with the trained monkey; the Jewish pawnbroker, the chimney sweep, the one-legged veteran, an old woman who looked out from some cellar, a spider’s nest in the corner of a wall—around all these things and still others she wound her tale of weal or woe. It seemed that what she saw had never been seen by mortal eyes before. It seemed that the things or people that attracted her attention had not existed until she had seen them. For this reason she was never in a bad humour, never bored, never lazy, never tired.

There was something about her, however, that Daniel could not understand. He did not know wherein the riddle lay, he merely knew that there was one. If she gave him her hand, it seemed to him that there was something unreal about it. If he requested that she look at him, she did so, but it seemed that her glance was divided, half going to the left, half to the right, neither meeting his. If she came so close to him that their arms touched, he had the feeling that he could not take hold of her if he wished to.

He struggled against the enticement that lay in this peculiarity.

Her presence ennobled his ambition and dispelled his whims. She gave him the beautifully formed cloud, the tree covered with young foliage, the moon that rises up over the roofs of the houses—she gave him the whole earth over which he was hastening, a stranger to peace, unfamiliar with contentment.

[180]

He cherished no suspicion; he had no foreshadowing of his fate. And Eleanore was not afraid of him; she, too, was without a sense of danger.

III

One Sunday afternoon in April they took a walk out into the country. Gertrude had been suffering for weeks from lassitude and could not go with them.

Eleanore was a superb walker. It gave Daniel extreme pleasure to walk along with her, keeping step, moving hastily. The quick movement increased his susceptibility to the charm of the changing landscapes. It was quite different when he walked with Gertrude. She was slow, given to introspection, thoughtful, and not very strong.

In the course of an hour clouds gathered in the sky, the sun disappeared, big drops began to fall. Eleanore had taken neither umbrella nor rain coat along; she began to walk more rapidly. If they tried, they could reach the inn beyond the forest, and find shelter from the storm.

Just as they slipped through the crowd that had hurried up the road to the same refuge and entered the inn, the sluices of heaven seemed to open, and a cloud-burst followed. They were standing in the hall. Eleanore was warm, and did not wish to remain in the draught. They went into the restaurant; it was so full that they had considerable trouble to find seats. A working man, his wife, and four sickly-looking children squeezed up more closely together; the two youngest boys gave them their chairs and went to look for others.

The clouds hung low, causing premature darkness. Lamps were lighted, and their odour mingled freely with the other odours of this overcrowded room. A few village musicians played some unknown piece; the eyes of the workingman’s children shone with delight. Because they sat there so quietly—and because they looked so pale—Eleanore gave each of the children a sandwich. The mother was very grateful, and said so. The father, who said he was the foreman in a mirror factory, began to talk with Daniel about the troubles of the present era.

All of a sudden Daniel caught sight of a familiar face at a nearby table. As it turned to one side, he saw in the dim, smelly light another face he knew, and then a third and a fourth. It was all so ghost-like in the room that it was some time before he [181]knew just where to place them. Then it occurred to him where they came from.

Herr Hadebusch and Frau Hadebusch, Herr Francke and Benjamin Dorn were having a little Sunday outing. The brush-maker’s wife was radiant with joy on seeing her old lodger. She nodded, she blinked, she folded her hands as if touched at the sight, and Herr Hadebusch raised his beer glass, eager to drink a toast to Daniel’s health.

They could not quite make out who Eleanore was; they took her for Daniel’s wife. This misunderstanding, it seemed, was then cleared up by the Methodist after he had craned his neck and called his powers of recognition into play. The demoniac woman nodded, to be sure, and kept on blinking, but in her face there was an expression of rustic disapproval. Her mouth was opened, and the tusks of her upper jaw shone forth uncannily from the black abyss.

The swan neck of the Methodist was screwed up so hardily and picturesquely above the heads of the others that Eleanore could not help but notice his physical and spiritual peculiarities. She wrinkled her brow, and looked at Daniel questioningly.

She looked around, and saw a great many people from the city whom she knew either by name or from having met them so frequently. There was a saleswoman from Ludwig Street; a clerk with a pock-marked face from a produce store; the dignified preceptress of a Kindergarten; an official of the savings bank; the hat-maker from the corner of the Market Place with his grown daughter; and the sergeant who invariably saluted when he passed by her.

All these people were in their Sunday clothes and seemed care-free and good natured. But as soon as they saw Eleanore a mean expression came over them. The fluttering of the lights made their faces look ghastly, while partial intoxication made it easy to read their filthy, lazy thoughts. Full of anxiety, Eleanore looked up at Daniel, as if she felt she would have to rely on his wealth of experience and greater superiority in general.

He was sorry for her and sorry for himself. He knew what was in store for him and her. When he looked over this Hogarthian gathering, and saw, despite its festive, convivial mood, hidden lusts of every description, crippled passions, secreted envy, and mysterious vindictiveness spread about like the stench of foul blood, he felt it was quite futile to cherish delusions of any kind as to what was before him. To spare Eleanore and to defend her, [182]to leave her rather than be guilty of causing the child-like smile on her lips to die out and disappear forever—this he believed in the bottom of his heart he could promise both her and himself.

The working man and his family had left; and as it was no longer raining, most of the other guests had also gone. Up in the room above people were dancing. The lamps were shaking, and it was easy to hear the low sounds of the bass violin. Daniel took out his pencil, and began writing notes on the table. Eleanore bent over, looking at him, and, like him, fell to dreamy thinking.

Neither wished to know what the other was thinking; they entertained themselves in silence; inwardly they were drawn closer and closer together, as if by some mysterious and irresistible power. They had not noticed that it was evening, that the room was empty, that the waiters had taken the glasses away, and that the dance music in the room above had stopped.

They sat there in the half-lighted corner side by side, as if in some dark, deserted cavern. When they finally came out of their deep silence and looked at each other, they were first surprised and then dismayed.

“What are we going to do?” asked Eleanore half in a whisper, “it is late; we must be going home.”

The sky was clouded, a warm wind swept across the plains, the road was full of puddles. Here and there a light flashed from the darkness, and a dog barked every now and then in the distant villages. When the road turned into the forest, Daniel gave Eleanore his arm. She took it, but soon let go. Daniel stopped, and said almost angrily: “Are we bewitched, both of us? Speak, Eleanore, speak!”

“What is there for me to say?” she asked gently. “I am frightened; it is so dark.”

“You are frightened, Eleanore, you? You do not know the night. It has never yet been night in your soul; nor night in the world about you. Now you appreciate perhaps how a being of the night feels.”

She made no reply.

“Give me your hand,” he said, “I will lead you.”

She gave him her hand. Soon they saw the lights of the city. He took her to her house; but when they reached it, they did not say good-bye: they looked at each other with dazed, helpless, seeking eyes; they were both pale and speechless.

Eleanore hastened into the hall, but turned as she reached the stairs, and waved to him with a smile, as if the two were separated [183]by a hazy distance. As he fixed his eyes on the spot where he saw the slender figure disappear, he felt as if something were clutching his throat.

IV

Without the slightest regard for time, without feeling tired, without definite thoughts, detached from the present and all sense of obligation, Daniel wandered aimlessly through the streets. A low dive on Schütt Island saw him as a late guest. He sat there with his hands before his eyes, neither seeing nor hearing nor feeling, all crouched up in a bundle. Dirty little puddles of gin glistened on the top of the table, the gamblers were cursing, the proprietor was drunk.

The fire alarm drove him out: there was a fire in the suburbs of Schoppershof. The sky was reddened, it was drizzling. It seemed to Daniel that the air was reeking with the premonition of a heart-crushing disaster. Above the Laufer Gate a sheaf of sparks was whirling about.

Just then the melody for which he had waited so long throughout so many nights of restless despair arose before him in a grandiose circle. It seemed as if born for the words of the “Harzreise”: “With the dim burning torch thou lightest for him the ferries at night over bottomless paths, across desolate fields.”

In mournful thirds, receding again and again, the voices sank to earth; just one remained on high, alone, piously dissociated from profane return.

He hummed the melody with trembling lips to himself, until he met the nineteenth-century Socrates with his followers in the Rosenthal. They were still gipsying through the night.

They all talked at once; they were going to the fire. Daniel passed by unrecognised. The shrill voice of the painter Kropotkin pierced the air: “Hail to the flames! Hail to those whose coming we announce!” The laughter of the slough brothers died away in the distance.

Gertrude was standing at the head of the stairs with a candle in her hand; she had been waiting there since twelve o’clock. At eleven she had gone over to her father’s house and rung the bell. Eleanore, frightened, had raised the window, and called down to her that Daniel had left her at nine.

He took the half-inanimate woman into the living room: “You must never wait for me, never,” he said.

[184]

He opened the window, pointed to the glowing sky beyond the church, and as she leaned her head, with eyes closed, on his shoulder, he said with a scurrilous distortion of his face: “Behold! The fire! Hail to the flames! Hail to those whose coming we announce!”

V

The following morning Eleanore had no time to think of why Daniel had not gone home.

Jordan had just finished his breakfast when some one rang the door bell with unusual rapidity. Eleanore went to the door, and came back with Herr Zittel, who was in a rare state of excitement.

“I have come to inquire about your son, Jordan,” he began, clearing his throat as though he were embarrassed.

“About my son?” replied Jordan astonished, “I thought you had given him three days’ leave.”

“I know nothing about that,” replied Herr Zittel.

“Last Saturday evening he went on a visit to his friend Gerber in Bamberg to celebrate the founding of a club, or something of that sort; we are not expecting him until to-morrow. If you know nothing about this arrangement, Herr Diruf must have given him his leave.”

The chief of the clerical department bit his lips. “Can you give me the address of this Herr Gerber?” he asked, “I should like to send him a telegram.”

“For heaven’s sake, what has happened, Herr Zittel?” cried Jordan, turning pale.

Herr Zittel stared into space with his gloomy, greenish eyes: “On Saturday afternoon Herr Diruf gave your son a cheque for three thousand seven hundred marks, and told him to cash it at the branch of the Bavarian Bank and bring the money to me. I was busy and did not go to the office in the afternoon. To-day, about a half-hour ago, Herr Diruf asked me whether I had received the money. It turned out that your son had not put in his appearance on Saturday, and since he has not shown up this morning either, you will readily see why we are so uneasy.”

Jordan straightened up as stiff as a flag pole: “Do you mean to insinuate that my son is guilty of some criminal transaction?” he thundered forth, and struck the top of the table with the bones of his clenched fist.

Herr Zittel shrugged his shoulders: “It is, of course, possible [185]that there has been some misunderstanding, or that some one has failed to perform his duty. But in any event the affair is serious. Something must be done at once, and if you leave me in the lurch I shall have to call in the police.”

Jordan’s face turned ashen pale. For some reason or other he began to fumble about in his long black coat for the pocket. The coat had no pocket, and yet he continued to feel for it with hasty fingers. He tried to speak, but his tongue refused to obey him; beads of perspiration settled on his brow.

Eleanore embraced him with solicitous affection: “Be calm, Father, don’t imagine the worst. Sit down, and let us talk it over.” She dried the perspiration from his forehead with her handkerchief, and then breathed a kiss on it.

Jordan fell on a chair; his powers of resistance were gone; he looked at Eleanore with beseeching tenseness. From the very first she had known what had happened and what would happen. But she dared not show him that she was without hope; she summoned all the power at her resourceful command to prevent the old man from having a paralytic stroke.

With the help of Herr Zittel she wrote out a telegram to Gerber. The answer, to be pre-paid, was to be sent to the General Agency of the Prudentia, and Eleanore was to go to the main office between eleven and twelve o’clock. She accompanied Herr Zittel to the front door, whereupon he said: “Do everything in your power to get the money. If the loss can be made good at once, Herr Diruf may be willing not to take the case to the courts.”

Eleanore knew full well that it would be exceedingly difficult to get such a sum as this. Her father had no money in the bank; his employer had lost confidence in him because he could no longer exert himself; what he needed most of all was a rest.

She entered the room with a friendly expression on her face, and remarked quite vivaciously: “Now, Father, we will wait and see what Benno has to say; and in order that you may not worry so much, I will read something nice to you.”

Sitting on a hassock at her father’s feet she read from a recent number of the Gartenlaube the description of an ascent of Mont Blanc. Then she read another article that her eye chanced to fall upon. All the while her bright voice was ringing through the room, she was struggling with decisions to which she might come and listening to the ticking of the clock. That her father no more had his mind on what she was reading than she herself was perfectly clear to her.

[186]

Finally the clock struck eleven. She got up, and said she had to go to the kitchen to make the fire. A maid usually came in at eleven to get dinner for the family, but to-day she had not appeared. Out in the hall Eleanore took her straw hat, and hastened over to Gertrude’s as fast as her feet could carry her. Daniel was not at home; Gertrude was peeling potatoes.

In three sentences Eleanore had told her sister the whole story. “Now you come with me at once! Go up and stay with Father! See that he does not leave the house! I will be back in half an hour!”

Gertrude was literally dragged down the steps by Eleanore; before she could ask questions of any kind, Eleanore had disappeared.

At the General Agency Herr Zittel met her with the reply from that Gerber, Benno’s friend. It bore Gerber’s signature, and read: “Benno Jordan has not been here.”

Benjamin Dorn stood behind Herr Zittel; he displayed an expression of soft, smooth, dirge-like regret.

“Herr Diruf would like to speak to you,” said Herr Zittel coldly.

Eleanore entered Herr Diruf’s private office; her face was pale. He kept on writing for about three minutes before he took any notice of her. Then his plum-like eyes opened lazily, a rare, voluptuous smile sneaked out from under his moustache like a slothful flash of heat lightning; he said: “The sharper has gone and done it, hasn’t he?”

Eleanore never moved.

“Can the embezzled money be returned within twenty-four hours?” asked the pudgy, purple prince of pen-pushers.

“My father will do everything that is humanly possible,” replied Eleanore anxiously.

“Be so good as to inform your father that to-morrow morning at twelve o’clock the charge will be preferred and placed in the hands of the police, if the money has not been paid by that time.”

Eleanore hastened home. Now her father had to be brought face to face with the realities of the case. He and Gertrude were sitting close to each other in terrible silence. Eleanore revealed the exact state of affairs; she had to.

“My good name!” groaned Jordan.

He had to save himself from disgrace; the twenty-four hours seemed to offer him a sure means of doing this. He had not the [187]remotest doubt but that he could find friends who would come to his aid; for he had something of which he could boast: a blameless past and the reputation of being a reliable citizen.

Thus he thought it over to himself. And as soon as he made up his mind to appeal to the friends of whom he felt he was certain, the most difficult part of his plan seemed to have been completed. The suffering to which he was condemned by his wounded pride and his betrayed, crushed filial affection he had to bear alone. He knew that this was a separate item.

He went out to look up his friends.

VI

The first one he appealed to was the brother-in-law of his sister, First Lieutenant Kupferschmied, retired. His sister had died six months ago, leaving nothing; the lieutenant, however, was a well-to-do man. He had married into the family of a rich merchant. Jordan’s relation to him had always been pleasant; indeed the old soldier seemed to be very fond of him. But hardly had Jordan explained his mission when the lieutenant became highly excited. He said he had seen this disaster coming. He remarked that any man who brings up his children in excessive ease must not be surprised if they come to a bad end. He remarked, too, that no power on earth could persuade him to invest one penny in Jordan’s case.

Jordan went away speechless.

The second friend he appealed to was his acquaintance of long standing, Judge Rübsam. From him he heard a voluble flow of words dealing with regrets, expressions of disgust, one lament after the other, a jeremiade on hard times, maledictions hurled at dilatory creditors, infinite consolation—and empty advice. He assured Jordan that yesterday he had almost the requisite sum in cash, and that he might have it again some time next month, but to-day—ah, to-day his taxes were due, and so on, and so on.

Oppressed by the weight of this unexpected humiliation, he went to the third friend, a merchant by the name of Hornbusch, to whom he had once rendered invaluable assistance. Herr Hornbusch had forgotten all about this, though he had not forgotten that he had vainly sounded in Jordan’s ears a warning against the ever-increasing flippancy of young Benno. He told Jordan that he himself was just then in urgent need of money, that he had only last month been obliged to sacrifice a mortgage, and that his wife had pawned her diamonds.

[188]

Thus it went with the fourth friend, an architect who had told him once that he would sacrifice money and reputation for him if he ever got into trouble. And it was the same story with the fifth and sixth and seventh. With a heart as heavy as lead, Jordan decided to take the last desperate step: He went to Herr Diruf himself. He asked for a three days’ extension of time. Diruf sat inapproachable at his desk. He was smoking a big thick Havana cigar, his solitaire threw off its blinding fireworks, he smiled a cold, tired smile and shook his head in astonishment.

When Jordan came home that evening he found Daniel and Gertrude in the living room. Gertrude went up to him to support him; then she brought him a glass of wine as a stimulant: he had not eaten anything since breakfast.

“Where is Eleanore?” he murmured, but seemed to take no interest in the reply to his question. He fell down on a chair, and buried his face in his hands.

Gertrude, who saw his strength leaving him as the light dies out of a slowly melting candle, became dizzy with compassion. Her last hope was in Eleanore, who had left at five o’clock simply because she found it intolerable to sit around, hour after hour, doing nothing but waiting for the return of her father. At every sound that could be heard in the house, Gertrude pricked up her ears in eager expectancy.

Daniel stood by the window, and looked out across the deserted square into the dull red glow of the setting sun.

It struck seven, then half past seven, eight, and Eleanore had not returned. Daniel began to pace back and forth through the room; he was nervous. If his foot chanced to strike against a chair, Gertrude shuddered.

Shortly after eight, steps were heard outside. The key rattled in the front gate, the room door opened, and in came Eleanore—and Philippina Schimmelweis.

VII

Everybody looked at Philippina; even Jordan himself honoured her with a faint glance. Daniel and Gertrude were amazed. Daniel did not recognise his cousin; he knew nothing about her; he had seen her but once, and then he was a mere child. He did not know who this repulsive-looking individual was, and demanded that Eleanore give him an explanation. As he did this, he raised his eyebrows.

[189]

Eleanore was the only one Philippina looked at in a kindly way; in Philippina’s own face there was an expression of curiosity.

Philippina’s whole bearing had something of the monstrous about it. Even her dress was picturesque, adventuresome. Her great brown straw hat, with the ribbon sticking straight up in the air, was shoved on to the back of her head so as not to spoil the effect of the fashionable bangs that hung down over her forehead. Her loud, checkered dress was strapped about her waist with a cloth belt so tightly that the contour of her fat body was made to look positively ridiculous: she resembled a gigantic hour glass. In her rough-cut features there was an element of lurking malevolence.

After a few minutes of painful stillness she walked up to Daniel, and plucked him by the coat-sleeve: “Eh, you don’t know who I am?” she asked, and her squinty eyes shone on him with enigmatic savagery: “I am Philippina; you know, Philippina Schimmelweis.”

Daniel stepped back from her: “Well, what of it?” he asked, wrinkling his brow.

She followed him, took him by the coat-sleeve again, and led him over into one corner: “Listen, Daniel,” she stammered, “my father—he must give you all the money you need. For years ago your father gave him all the money he had, and told him to keep it for you. Do you understand? I happened to hear about it one time when my father was talking about it to my mother. It was a good seven years ago, but I made a note of it. My father spent the money on himself; he thinks he can keep it. Go to him, and tell him what you want; tell him how much you want, and then go help these people here. But you must not give me away; if you do they’ll kill me. Do you understand? You won’t say a word about it, will you?”

“Is that true?” Daniel managed to say in reply, as a feeling of unspeakable anger struggled with one of indescribable disgust.

“It is true, Daniel, every word of it; ’pon my soul and honour,” replied Philippina; “just go, and you’ll see that I have told you the truth.”

During the conversation of the two, of which she could hardly hear a single syllable, Eleanore never took her eyes off them.

VIII

Since the day Philippina had made her little brother Markus a cripple for life, she had been an outcast in the home of her parents.

[190]

To be sure, she had had no great abundance of kindness and cheerfulness before the accident took place. But since that time the barbarous castigation of her father had beclouded and besmirched her very soul. From her twelfth year on, her mind was ruled exclusively by hate.

Hatred aroused her; it gave birth to thoughts and plans in her; it endowed her with strength of will and audacity; and it matured her before her time.

She hated her father, her mother, her brothers.

She hated the house with all its rooms; she hated the bed in which she slept, the table at which she ate. She hated the people who came to see her parents, the customers who came into the shop, the loafers who gathered about the window, the tall lanky Zwanziger, the books and the magazines.

But the day she overheard her father and mother talking about that money, a second power had joined the ranks of hate in her benighted, abandoned soul. With her brain on fire she stood behind the door, and heard that she was to be married to Daniel. This remark had filled the then thirteen-year-old girl with all the savage instincts of a bound and fettered woman, with all the crabbedness of an unimaginative person of her standing.

In her father’s remark she did not see merely a more or less carefully outlined plan; she heard a message from Fate itself; and from that time on she lived with an idea that brought light and purpose into her daily existence.

Shortly after his arrival in Nuremberg, she saw Daniel for the first time as he was standing by a booth in the market place on Schütt Island. Her father had pointed him out to her. She knew that he wished to become a musician; this made no special impression on her. She knew that he was having a hard time of it; this filled her neither with sympathy nor regret. When she later on saw him in the concert hall, he was already her promised spouse; he belonged to her. To capture him, to get him into her power, it made no difference how, was her unchanging aspiration, in which there was a bizarre mixture of bestiality and insanity.

The thieving, which she decided upon at once and practised with perfect regularity, netted her in the course of time a handsome sum. She did not become bolder and bolder as she continued her evil practices, but, unlike thieves generally, she grew to be more and more cautious. She acquired in time remarkable skill at showing an outwardly honest face. Indeed she became such an adept at dissimulation that the suspicion of even Jason Philip, [191]aroused as it had been during the course of a careful investigation, was dispelled by her behaviour.

Her plan was to gain a goodly measure of independence through the money she had stolen. For she always felt convinced that the day would come when her parents would debar her from their home. She was convinced that her father and mother were merely waiting for some plausible excuse to rid themselves of her for good and all.

Moreover, she had two pronounced passions: one for candy and one for flashy ribbons.

The candy she always bought in the evening. She would slip into the shop of Herr Degen, and, with her greedy eyes opened as wide as possible, buy twenty pfennigs’ worth of sweets, at which she would nibble until she went to bed.

The ribbons she sewed together into sashes, which she wore on her hat or around her neck or on her dress. The gaudier the colour the better she liked it. If her mother asked her where she got the ribbons she was forced to lie. Although she had no girl friends, as a matter of fact no friends of any kind, she would say that this or that girl had given them to her. When her wealth became too conspicuous, she would leave the house and not tie her sashes about her until she had reached some unlighted gateway or dark corner.

She never dared go to the attic more than once a week; she did this when her brothers were at school and her parents in the shop. The fear lest some one find her out and take her stolen riches from her made her more and more uneasy, lending to her face an expression of virulent distrust.

She would go up the thirteen steps from the landing to the attic with trembling feet. The fact that there were exactly thirteen was the first thing that awakened her superstition. As the months crept on, she resigned to this superstition with the abandon of an inveterate voluptuary. If she chanced to put her left foot first on the bottom step and not to notice it until she was half way up, she would turn around, come down, and relinquish the pleasure of seeing her treasures for the rest of that week.

She was afraid of ghosts, witches, and magicians; if a cat ran across the street in front of her, she turned as white as chalk.

Theresa did not keep a maid; Philippina helped in the kitchen; this ruined her complexion, and made her skin rough and horny. Frequently she got out of washing dishes by simply running away. On these occasions Theresa would create such an uproar that [192]the neighbours would come to the window and look out. Philippina avenged herself by purposely ruining the sheets, towels, and shirts that lay in the clothes basket. When in this mood and at this business, she made use of a regular oath that she herself had formulated: it consisted of sentences that sounded most impressive, though they had no meaning.

She cherished the odd delusion that it lay in her power to bring misfortune to other people. The time Jason Philip complained of poor business she felt an infernal sense of satisfaction. His change of political views had driven away his old customers, and the new ones had no confidence in him. He had to go in for the publication of dubious works, if he wished to do any business at all. The result of this was that when people passed by the Schimmelweis bookshop, they stopped before the window, looked at his latest output, and smiled contemptuously. The workman’s insurance no longer paid as it used to, for the credit of the Prudentia and its agents had suffered a violent setback.

The rise and fall in bourgeois life follows a well established law. In a single day the honesty and diligence of one man, the tricks and frauds of another, grow stale, antiquated. Thus Jordan’s affairs started on the down grade, and Jason Philip’s likewise.

Philippina ascribed their failure to the quiet influence of her destructive work. Every bit of misfortune in the life of her father loosened by that much the chain that prevented her from complete freedom of movement. In her most infamous hours she would dream of the hunger and distress, bankruptcy and despair of her people. Once this state of affairs had been realised, she would no longer have to play the rôle of Cinderella; she would no longer have to be the first one up in the morning; she would no longer have to chop wood, and polish her brothers’ boots: she would have a fair field and no favours in her campaign to capture Daniel.

IX

At times she thought she could simply go to him and stay with him. At times she felt that he would come and get her. One thing or the other had to take place, she thought.

One Sunday afternoon—it chanced to be her eighteenth birthday—a junior agent of Jason Philip, a fellow by the name of Pfefferkorn, came to the house, and in the course of the conversation remarked rather casually that the elder of the Jordan sisters[193] was engaged to the musician Nothafft, that the engagement had been kept secret for a while, but that the wedding was to take place in the immediate future.

“By the way, I hear that the musician is your nephew,” said Pfefferkorn at the close of his report.

Jason Philip cast a gloomy look into space, while Theresa, then sipping her chicory coffee, set her cup on the table, and looked at the man with scornful contempt.

Philippina broke out in a laughter that went through them like a knife. Then she ran from the room, and banged the door behind her. “She seems a bit deranged,” murmured Jason Philip angrily.

Then came that June night on which she did not come home at all. Jason Philip raged and howled when she returned the next morning; but she was silent. He locked her up in the cellar for sixteen hours; but she was silent.

After this she did not leave the house for months at a time; she did not wash or comb her hair; she sat crouched up in the kitchen with her long, dishevelled, unwashed hair falling in loose locks down over her neck and shoulders.

A feeling of consuming vengeance seethed in her heart; the patience she was forced to practise, much against her will, petrified in time into a mien of hypocritic sottishness.

Suddenly she took to dressing up again and sauntering through the streets in the afternoon. Her loud ribbons awakened the mocking laughter of young and old.

She had learned that Eleanore Jordan was attending the lectures in the Cultural Club. She went too; she always crowded up close to Eleanore, but she could not attract her attention. One time she sat right next to Eleanore. A strolling pastor delivered a lecture on cremation. Philippina took out her handkerchief, and pressed it to her eyes as though she were weeping. Eleanore, somewhat concerned, turned to her, and asked her what was the matter. She said that it was all so sad what the old gentleman was saying. Eleanore was surprised, for nothing the speaker had said was sad or in any way likely to bring tears to the eyes of his auditors.

At the end of the lecture she left the hall with Eleanore. When the ugly, disagreeable creature told her of the wretchedness of her life, how she was abused by her parents and brothers, and that there was not a soul in the world who cared for her, Eleanore was moved. The fact that Philippina was Daniel’s blood cousin made [194]her forget the aversion she felt, and drew from her a promise to go walking with her on certain days.

Eleanore kept her promise. She was not in the least disconcerted by the queer looks cast at her by the people they met. With perfect composure she walked along by the side of this strapping, quackish young woman dressed in the oddest garments known to the art of dress-making. At first they strolled in broad daylight through the park adjoining the city moat. Later Eleanore arranged to have the walks, which were to take place two or three times a month, postponed until after sunset.

This was quite agreeable to Philippina. She threw out a hint every now and then that there was a mysterious feud between the Schimmelweis family and the Nothaffts, and implored Eleanore never to let Daniel know that she was taking these walks with her. It was painful to Eleanore to have Philippina make such requests of her. The lurking manner in which she would turn the conversation to the affairs of Daniel and Gertrude had an element of offensive intrusiveness in it. She wanted to know first this, then that. She even had the impudence to ask about Gertrude’s dowry; and finally she requested that Eleanore bring her sister along some time when they went walking.

Eleanore came to have a feeling of horror at the sight or thought of Philippina; she was dismayed too when, despite the darkness, she noticed the shrewish look of incorrigible wickedness in Philippina’s face. An ineluctable voice put her on her guard. In so far as she could do it without grievously offending Philippina, she withdrew from further association with her. And even if she had not promised her absolute silence, a feeling half of fear and half of shame would have prevented her from ever mentioning Philippina’s name in Daniel’s presence.

She never once suspected that Philippina was spying on her. Philippina soon found out just when, how often, and where Daniel and Eleanore met; and wherever they went, she followed at a safe distance behind them. Why she did this she really did not know; something forced her to do it.

What she had succeeded in doing with Eleanore she now wished to do with Gertrude. She would bob up all of a sudden in the butcher shop, at the vegetable market, in the dairy, anywhere, stare at Gertrude, act as though she were intensely interested in something, and make some such remarks as: “Lord, but beans are dear this year”; or “That is a nasty wind, it is enough to give you the colic.” But Gertrude was far too lost to the world and much [195]too sensitive about coming in contact with strangers to pay any attention to her awkward attempts at approach.

“Just wait,” thought Philippina, enraged, “the penalty of your arrogance will some day descend upon your head.”

X

On that Monday so fatal for the Jordan family, Philippina had another violent quarrel with her mother. Theresa was still shrieking, when Jason Philip came up from the shop to know what could be wrong.

“Don’t ask,” cried Theresa at the top of her shrill voice, “go teach your daughter some manners. The wench is going to end up in jail; that’s what I prophesy.”

Philippina made a wry face. Jason Philip, however, was little inclined to play the rôle of an avenging power: he had something new on the string; his face was beaming.

“I met Hornbusch,” he said, turning to Theresa, “you know him, firm of Hornbusch heirs, bloody rich they are, and the man tells me that young Jordan has embezzled some money from the Prudentia and left the country. I went at once to the Prudentia, and Zittel told me the whole story, just as I had heard it. It is almost four thousand marks! Jordan has been requested to make good the deficit; but he hasn’t a penny to his name and is in a mighty tight place, for Diruf is threatening to send him to jail. You know, Diruf is hard-boiled in matters of this kind. What do you think of that?”

Theresa wrapped her hands in her apron, and looked at Jason Philip out of the corner of her eye. She guessed at once the cause of his joy, and hung her head in silence.

Jason Philip smirked to himself. Leaning up against the Dutch tiles of the stove, he began to whistle in a happy-go-lucky mood. It was the “Marseillaise.” He whistled it partly out of forgetfulness and partly from force of habit.

He had not noticed how Philippina had listened to every syllable that fell from his lips; how she was holding her breath; that her features were lighted up from within by a terrible flame of fire. He did notice, however, that she got up at the close of his remarks and left the room with rustling steps.

Five minutes later she was standing before Jordan’s house. She sent a small boy in with the request that Fräulein Eleanore come down at once. The boy came back, and said that Fräulein Eleanore [196]was not at home. She took her position by the front gate, and waited.

XI

Driven by the torment of her soul, Eleanore had gone to Martha Rübsam’s only to hear that her father had been there three hours earlier. From the confused and embarrassed conduct of her friend she learned that her father had made a request of Judge Rübsam, and a fruitless one at that.

Then she stood for a while on one of the leading streets, and stared in bewilderment at the throngs of people surging by. It was all so cruelly real.

She thought of whom she might go to next. A wave of purple flashed across her face as she thought of Eberhard. Involuntarily she made a passionate, deprecating gesture, as if she were saying: No, no, not to him! The first ray of this hope was also the last. Her conscience struck her; but she was helpless. Here was a feeling impervious to reason; armed ten times over against encouragement. Anyhow, he was not at home. She thought of this with a sigh of relief.

Would Daniel go to the Baroness? No; that could not be thought of for a minute.

She could no longer endure the city nor the people in it. She walked through the park out into the country. She could not stand the sight of the sky or the distant views; she turned around. She came back to The Füll, entered the Carovius house, and rang Frau Benda’s bell. She knew the old lady was away, and yet, as if quite beside herself, she rang four times. If Benda would only come; if the good friend were only sitting in his room and could come to the door.

But there was not a stir. From the first floor the sounds of a piano floated out the window; it was being played in full chords. Down in the court Cæsar was howling.

She started back home with beating heart. At the front gate she saw Philippina.

“I have heard all about your misfortune,” said Philippina in her shrill voice. “Nobody can help you but me.”

“You? You can help?” stammered Eleanore. The whole square began to move, it seemed, before her.

“Word of honour—I can. I must simply have a talk with Daniel first. Let’s lose no time. Is he upstairs?”

[197]

“I think he is. If not, I will get him.”

“Let’s go up, then.”

They went up the stairs.

XII

Jason Philip had been invited to a sociable evening in the Shufflers’ Club. He was now enjoying his siesta after his banquet by reading an editorial in the Kurier. One of Bismarck’s addresses had been so humorously commented on that every now and then Jason Philip emitted a malevolent snarl of applause.

He had brought a lemon along home with him; it was lying on a plate before him, sliced and covered with sugar. From time to time he would reach over, take a piece and stick it in his mouth. He smacked his tongue with the display of much ceremony of his kind, and licked his lips after swallowing a piece. His two sons gaped at his hand with greedy eyes and likewise licked their lips.

Willibald was groaning over an algebraic equation. In his pale, pimpled face were traces of incapability and bad humour. Markus, owing to his physical defect, was not allowed to study by artificial light. He helped his mother shell the peas, and in order to make her angry at Philippina, kept making mean remarks about her staying out so long.

Just as the last piece of the lemon disappeared behind Jason Philip’s moustache, the door bell rang.

“There is a man out there,” said Markus, who had gone to the door and was now standing on the threshold, stupidly staring with his one remaining eye.

Jason Philip stretched his neck. Then he got up. He had recognised Daniel standing in the half-lighted hall.

“I have something to say to you,” said Daniel, as he entered the room. His eyes gazed on the walls and at the few cheap, ugly, banal objects that hung on them: a newspaper-holder with embroidered ribbons; a corner table on which stood a beer mug representing the fat body of a monk; an old chromic print showing a volunteer taking leave of his big family as he starts for the front. These things appealed to Daniel somewhat as an irrational dream. Then, taking a deep breath, he fixed his eyes on Jason Philip. In his mind’s eye he looked back over many years; he saw himself standing at the fountain in Eschenbach. Round about him glistened the stones and cross beams of the houses. Jason Philip was hurrying [198]by at a timid distance. There was bitterness in his face: he seemed to be fleeing from the world, the sun, men, and music.

“I have something to say to you,” he repeated.

Theresa felt that the worst of her forebodings were about to be fulfilled. With trembling knees she arose. She did not dare turn her eyes toward the place in the room where Daniel was standing. She did not see, she merely sensed Jason Philip as he beckoned to her and his sons to leave the room. She took Markus by the hand and Willibald by the coat-sleeve, and marched out between the two.

“What’s the news?” asked Jason Philip, as he crossed his arms and looked at the pile of beans on the table. “You have a—what shall I say?—a very impulsive way about you. It is a way that reminds me of the fact that we have a law in this country against disturbing the peace of a private family. Your stocks must have gone to the very top of the market recently. Well, tell me, what do you want?”

He cleared his throat, and beat a tattoo on the elbows of his crossed arms with his fingers.

Daniel felt that his peace was leaving him; his own arm seemed to him like a shot-gun; it itched. But thus far he could not say a thing. The question he had in mind to put to Jason Philip was of such tremendous import that he could not suppress his fear that he might make a mistake or become too hasty.

“Where is the money my father gave you?” came the words at last, rolling from his lips in a tone of muffled sullenness.

The colour left Jason Philip’s face; his arms fell down by his side.

“The money? Where it’s gone to? That your father—?” He stuttered in confusion. He wanted to gain time; he wanted to think over very carefully what he should say and what he could conceal. He cast one glance at Daniel, and saw that it was not possible to expect mercy from him. He was afraid of Daniel’s bold, lean, sinewy face.

He nearly burst with anger at the thought that this young man, for whom he, Jason Philip, was once the highest authority, should have the unmitigated audacity to call him to account. In this whole situation he pictured himself as the immaculate man of honour that he wished he was and thought he was in the eyes of his fellow citizens. At the same time he was nearly stifled with fear lest he lose the money which he had long since accustomed himself to regard as his own, with which he had worked and speculated, [199]and which by this time was as much a part of his very being as his own house, his business, his projects. He buried his hands in his pockets and snorted. His cowardly dread of the consequences of fraud forced him into a half confession of fraud, but in his words lay the feverish pettifogging of the frenzied financier who fights for Mammon even unto raging and despair.

“The money is here; of course it is. Where did you think it was? My books will show exactly how much of it has found its way over to Eschenbach in the shape of interest and loans. My books are open to inspection; the accounts have been kept right up to this very day. I have made considerable progress in life. A man who has lived as I have lived does not need to fear a living soul. Do you imagine for a minute that Jason Philip Schimmelweis can be frightened by a little thing like this? No, no, it will take more of a man than you to do that. Who are you anyhow? What office do you hold? What authority have you? With what right do you come rushing into the four walls of my home? Do you perhaps imagine that your artistic skill invests you with special privileges? I don’t give a tinker’s damn for your art. The whole rubbish is hardly worth spitting on. Music? Idiocy. Who needs it? Any man with the least vestige of self-respect never has anything to do with music except on holidays and when the day’s work is done. No, no, you can’t impress me with your music. You’re not quite sane! And if you think that you are going to get any money out of me, you are making the mistake of your life. It is to laugh. If a man wants money from me, he has to come to me at least with a decent hair-cut and show me at least a little respect. He can’t come running up like a kid on the street who says: ‘Mumma, gif me a shent; I want to buy some tandy.’ No, no, son, you can’t get anything out of me that way.”

The smile that appeared on Daniel’s face filled Jason Philip with mortal terror. He stopped his talk with incriminating suddenness. He decided to hold in and to promise Daniel a small payment. He hoped that by handing over a few hundred marks he could assure himself the desired peace of mind.

But Daniel never felt so certain of himself in his life. He thought of the hardships he had had to endure, and his heart seemed as if it were on fire. At the same time he was ashamed of this man and disgusted with him.

He said quietly and firmly: “I must have three thousand seven hundred marks by ten o’clock to-morrow morning. It is a question [200]of saving an honourable and upright family from ruin. If this sum is handed over to me promptly, I will waive all rights to the balance that is due me, in writing. The receipt will be filled out ready for delivery in my house. If the money is not in my hands by the stipulated time, we will meet each other in another place and in the presence of people who will impress you.”

He turned to go.

Jason Philip’s mouth opened wide, and he pressed his fist to the hole made thereby. “Three thousand seven hundred marks?” he roared. “The man is crazy. Completely crazy is the man. Man, man, you’re crazy,” he cried in order to get Daniel to stop. “Are you crazy, man? Do you want to ruin me? Don’t you hear, you damned man?”

Daniel looked at Jason Philip with a shudder. The door to the adjoining room sprang open, and Theresa rushed in. Her face was ashen pale; there were just two little round red spots on her cheek bones. “You are going to get that money, Daniel,” she howled hysterically, “or I am going to jump into the Pegnitz, I’ll jump into the Pegnitz and drown myself.”

“Woman, you ...” he gnashed his teeth, and seized her by the shoulder.

She sank down on a chair, and, seizing her hair, continued: “He is everywhere, and wherever he is, our dear Gottfried, he is looking at me. He stands before the clothes press, at the cupboard, by my bedside, nods, exhorts, raises his finger, finds no peace in his grave, and does not let me sleep; he has not let me sleep all these years.”

“Now listen, you had better think of your children,” snapped Jason Philip.

Theresa let her hands fall in her lap, and looked down at the floor: “All that nice money, that nice money,” she cried. Then again, this time with a face distorted beyond easy recognition and at the top of her voice: “But you’ll get it, Daniel; I’ll see to it that you get it: I’ll bring it to you myself.” Then again, in a gentle voice of acute lamentation: “All that nice money.”

Daniel was almost convulsed. It seemed to him as if he had never rightly understood the word money before, as if the meaning of money had never been made clear to him until he heard Theresa say it.

“To-morrow morning at ten o’clock,” he said.

Theresa nodded her head in silence, and raised her hands with outstretched fingers as if to protect herself from Jason Philip. [201]Willibald and Markus had crept under the door. The gate must not have been closed, for just then Philippina came in. She had come over with Daniel, but had remained outside on the street. She could not wait any longer; she was too anxious to see the consequences of her betrayal.

She looked around with affected embarrassment. Was it merely the sight of her that aroused Jason Philip’s wrath? Was it the half-cowardly, half-cynical smile that played around her lips? Or was it the cumulative effect of blind anger, long pent up and eager to be discharged, that made Jason Philip act as he did? Or did he have a vague suspicion of what Philippina had done? Suffice it to say, he leapt up to her and struck her in the face with his fist.

She never moved a muscle.

Indignant at the rudeness of his conduct, Daniel stepped between Jason Philip and his daughter. But the venomous scorn in the girl’s eyes stifled his sympathy; he turned to the door, and went away in silence.

“All that nice money,” murmured Theresa.

XIII

When Daniel told the Jordans that the money would be there the next morning, Jordan looked at him first unbelievingly, and then wept like a child.

Eleanore reached Daniel both her hands without saying a word. Gertrude, who was lying on the sofa, straightened up, smiled gently, and then lay down again. Daniel asked her what was the matter. Eleanore answered for her, saying that she had not felt well since some time in the afternoon. “She must go to bed, she is tired,” added Eleanore.

“Well, come then,” said Daniel, and helped Gertrude to get up. But her legs were without strength; she could not walk. She looked first at Daniel and then at Eleanore; she was plainly worried about something.

“You won’t care, will you, Father, if I go home with them?” asked Eleanore in a tone of flattery.

“No, go, child,” said Jordan, “it will do me good to be alone for a few minutes.”

Daniel and Eleanore took Gertrude between them. At the second landing in their apartment, Daniel took Gertrude in his arms, and carried her into the bedroom. She did not want him [202]to help her take off her clothes; she sent him out of the room. A cup of warm milk was all she said she wanted.

“There is no milk there,” said Eleanore to Daniel, as she entered the living room. He stopped suddenly, and looked at her as if he had awakened from a fleeting dream: “I’ll run down to Tetzel Street and get a half a litre,” said Eleanore. “I’ll leave the hall door open, so that Gertrude will not be frightened when I come in.”

She had already hastened out; but all of a sudden she turned around, and said with joyful gratitude, her blue eyes swimming in the tears of a full soul: “You dear man.”

His face took on a scowl.

There was a fearful regularity in his walking back and forth. The chains of the hanging lamp shook. The flame sent forth a thin column of smoke; he did not notice it. “How long will she be gone?” he thought in his unconscious, drunken impatience. He felt terribly deserted.

He stepped out into the hall, and listened. There hovered before him in the darkness the face of Philippina. She showed the same scornful immobility that she showed when her father struck her in the face. He stepped to the railing, and sat down on the top step; a fit at once of weakness and aimless defiance came over him. He buried his face in his hands; he could still hear Theresa saying, “All that nice money.”

There were shadows everywhere; there was nothing but night and shadows.

Eleanore, light-hearted and light-footed, returned at last. When she saw him, she stopped. He arose, and stretched out his arms as if to take the milk bottle. That is the way she interpreted his gesture, and handed it to him in surprise. He, however, set it down on the landing beside him. The light from the living room shone on it and made it look sparkling white. Then he drew Eleanore to him, threw his arms around her, and kissed her on the mouth.

Merely a creature of man, only a woman, nothing but heart and breath, all longing and forgetting, forgetting for just one moment, finding herself for a moment, knowing her own self for a moment—she pressed close up to him. But her hands were folded between her breast and his, and thus separated their bodies.

Then she broke away from him, wrung her hands, looked up at him, pressed close up to him again, wrung her hands again—it was [203]all done in absolute silence and with an almost terrible grace and loveliness.

Everything was now entirely different from what it had been, or what she had formerly imagined it to be; there were depths to everything now. She lost herself; she ceased to exist for a moment; darkness enveloped her much-disciplined heart; she entered upon a second existence, an existence that had no similarity with the first.

To this existence she was now bound; she had succumbed to it: the law of nature had gone into effect. But the glass case had been shattered; it was in pieces. She stood there unprotected, even exposed, so to speak, to men, no longer immune to their glances, an accessible prey to their touch.

She went into the kitchen, and heated the milk. Daniel returned to the living room. His veins were burning, his heart was hammering. He had no sense of appreciation of the time that had passed. When Eleanore came into the room, he began to tremble.

She came up to him, and spoke to him in passionate sadness: “Have you heard about Gertrude? Don’t you know, really? She is with child—your wife.”

“I did not know it,” whispered Daniel. “Did she tell you?”

“Yes, just now.”

[204]TRES FACIUNT COLLEGIUM

I

The habitués of the reserved table at the Crocodile were all reasonably well informed of the events that had recently taken place in the homes of Inspector Jordan and Jason Philip Schimmelweis. Details were mentioned that would make it seem probable that the cracks in the walls and the key-holes of both houses had been entertaining eavesdroppers.

Some refused to believe that Jason Philip had made restitution for the money young Jordan had embezzled. For, said Degen, the baker, Schimmelweis is a hard-fisted fellow, and whoever would try to get money out of him would have to be in the possession of extraordinary shrewdness.

“But he has already paid it,” said Gründlich, the watchmaker. He knew he had; he knew that the wife of the bookseller had gone over to Nothafft’s on Tuesday afternoon; that she had a heap of silver in a bag; and that when she came back home she took to bed, and had been ill ever since.

Kitzler, the assistant postmaster, felt there was something wrong here; and if there was not, you would simply have to assume that Nothafft, the musician, was a dangerous citizen, who had somehow managed to place the breast of his uncle vis-à-vis a revolver.

“And you know, Nothafft is to be made Kapellmeister at the City Theatre,” remarked the editor Weibezahl, the latest member of the round table. “His appointment is to be made public in a few days.”

“What! Kapellmeister! You don’t say so! That will make Andreas Döderlein the saddest man in ten states.”

Herr Carovius, whose mouth was just then hanging on his beer glass, laughed so heartily that the beer went down his Sunday throat; he was seized with a coughing spell. Herr Korn slapped him on the back.

It was a shame that such a bad actor as Nothafft had to be endured in the midst of people who lived peaceful and law-abiding lives. This lament came from Herr Kleinlein, who had been [205]circuit judge now for some time. He was anxious to know whether all the tales that were circulating concerning Nothafft were true.

Well, he was told, a great many things are said about Nothafft, but it is difficult to get at the truth. They appealed to the apothecary Pflaum, on the ground that his assistant knew the musician and might be able to give them some definite information.

Herr Pflaum took on an air as if he knew a great deal but was under obligations not to tell. Yes, yes, he said rather perfunctorily, he had heard that some one had said that Nothafft was running a pretty questionable domestic establishment; that he had a rather unsavoury past; and that there was some talk about his neglecting his wife.

The deuce you say! Why, they were married only a short while ago. Yes, but there was a rumour to the effect that there was a woman in the case. Who could it be? Ahem! Well-ah, it would be a good idea to be cautious about mentioning names. Good Lord, why cautious? Why not straight out with the information any one chanced to be fortunate enough to have? Is it not a question of protecting one’s own wife and daughters?

And so this slanderous babble rattled on. There was something unfathomable in their hatred of the musician. They were just as agreed on this point as they would have been if Daniel had broken open their strong boxes, smashed their windows, and betrayed their honour and dignity to public ridicule.

They did not know what they should do about him. They passed by him as one would pass by a bomb that might or might not explode.

II

When Herr Carovius was alone, he picked up the paper, and read the account of a mine explosion in Silesia. The number of killed satisfied him. The description of the women as they stood at the top of the shaft, wept, wrung their hands, and called out the names of their husbands, filled him with the same agreeable sensation that he experienced when he listened to the melancholy finale of a Chopin nocturne.

But he could not forget the expression on Herr Pflaum’s face when he told how Nothafft was neglecting his wife. It had been the expression that comes out, so to speak, from between the curtains of a sleeping room: something was up, make no mistake, something was going on.

[206]

For quite a while Herr Carovius had harboured the suspicion that there was something wrong. Twice he had met Daniel and Eleanore walking along the street in the twilight, talking to each other in a very mysterious way. Things were going on behind Herr Carovius’s back which he could not afford to overlook.

Since the day Eleanore had disentangled the cord of his nose glasses from the button of his top coat, the picture of the young girl had been indelibly stamped on his mind. He could still see the beautiful curvature of her young bosom as she raised her arm.

A year and a half after this incident, Herr Carovius was going through some old papers. He chanced upon an unfinished letter which Eberhard von Auffenberg had written to Eleanore but had never posted. Eberhard had come to Nuremberg at the time to transact some business connected with the negotiation of a new loan; he had left his hotel, and Herr Carovius had had to wait for him a long while. This time he had spent in looking over the unsealed documents of the incautious young Baron.

Then it was that he discovered the letter. What words! And oh, the passion! Herr Carovius would never have believed that the reserved misanthrope was capable of such a display of emotion. He felt that Eberhard had disclosed to him the most secret chambers of his heart. He was terrified at the voluptuousness revealed to him by the unveiling of the mystery of his soul. They are human beings after all, those members of the nobility, he exclaimed with a feeling of personal triumph. They throw themselves away; they meet some slippery imp, and fall; they lose control of themselves as soon as they hear a skirt rustle.

But what concerned the Baron in this case concerned also Herr Carovius. A passion that had taken possession of the Baron had to be guarded, studied, and eventually shared by Herr Carovius himself.

Herr Carovius’s loneliness had gradually robbed him of his equanimity. Suppressed impulses were stifling his mind with the luxuriant growths of a vivid and vicious imagination. The adventures into which he had voluntarily plunged in order to make sure of his control over Eberhard had almost ruined him. The net he had spread for the helplessly fluttering bird now held him himself entangled in its meshes. The world to him was a body full of wounds on which he was battening his Neronic lusts. But it was at the same time a tapestry, with bright coloured pictures which could be made living and real by a magic formula, and this formula he had not yet been able to discover.

[207]

At the insinuations of the apothecary his fancy took on new life: he was not a man in whose soul old emotions died out; his lusts never became extinct. Lying on the sofa, taking his midday siesta, he would picture the figure of Eleanore dancing around him in diminutive form. When he sat at the piano and played an étude, he imagined he saw Daniel standing beside him criticising his technique—and doing it with much show of arrogance. When he went out of evenings, he saw Nothafft displayed on all the signs, while every demi-monde bore Eleanore’s features.

It seemed to him in time that Eleanore Jordan was his property; that he had a right to her. His life, he felt, was full of lamentable privations: other people had everything, he had nothing. Others committed crimes; all he could do was to make note of the crimes. And no man could become either satiated or rich from merely taking the criminal incidents of other people’s lives into account.

At midnight he put on his sleeping gown, took a seat before the mirror, and read until break of day a novel in which a man fifty years old has a secret and successful love affair with a young woman. As he read this novel he knew that something was going on. And he knew that out there in a certain house on Ægydius Place something was also going on. Make no mistake, something was up.

He saw trysts on unlighted stairways. He saw people coming to mutual understandings by a certain pressure of the hand and adulterous signals. That is the way they did it; that is the way Benda and Marguerite had done it. His old hate was revived. He transferred his hate, but also his hope, to music. Through music he was to build a bridge to Daniel and Eleanore. He wanted to give them the advantage of his insight, his tricks, his experience, simply in order that he might be on hand when they committed the gruesome deed; so that he might not be cut off from them by an impenetrable wall and be tortured in consequence by an incorporeal jealousy; he wanted to be one with them, to feast his eye and reach forth his empty, senescent hand.

“I am,” he said to himself, “of the same flesh and blood as that man; in me too there is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I have, to be sure,” he said to himself, “despised women, for they are despicable. But let some woman come forward and show me that she is fit for anything more than to increase by two or three the number of idiots with which the world is already overcrowded, and I will do penance, whole and complete, and then offer her my services as a knight.”

[208]

He no longer slept or ate; nor could he do anything that was in any way rational. In a belated sexual outburst, a second puberty, his imagination became inflamed by a picture which he adorned with all the perfections of both soul and body.

He heard that one of Daniel’s works was to be played before invited guests at the home of Baroness von Auffenberg. He wired to Eberhard, and asked him to get him an invitation. The reply was a negative one. In his rage he could have murdered the messenger boy. He then wrote to Daniel, and, boasting of what he had already done for him, begged Daniel to see to it that he was among the guests at the recital. He received a printed card from the Baroness, on which she had expressed the hope that she might be able to greet him on a certain day.

He was in the seventh heaven. He decided to pay Daniel a visit, and to thank him for his kindness.

III

“The only thing to do is to leave the city, to go far, far away from here,” thought Eleanore, on that evening that was so different from any other evening of her life.

While she was combing her hair, she was tempted to take the scissors and cut it off just to make herself ugly. In the night she went to the window to look for the stars. If it only had not happened, if it only were a dream, a voice within her cried.

As soon as it turned grey in the morning, she got up. She hastened through the deserted streets, just as she had done yesterday, out to the suburbs. But everything was different. Tree and bush looked down upon her with stern reproachfulness. The mists hung low; but the hazy grey cold of the early morning was like a bath to her. Later the sun broke through; primroses glistened with gold on the meadow. If it could only have been a dream, she thought in silence.

When she came home, her father had already received the news about the money: it had been paid to Diruf; Daniel had taken it to him.

Jordan remained in his room the whole day. And on the following day he kept to himself except while at dinner. He sat at the table with bowed head; he had nothing to say. Eleanore went to his door from time to time to see if she could hear him. There was not a sound; the house sang with solitude.

Jordan had requested the landlord to sublet the house before [209]his lease had expired: he felt that it was too large and expensive for him in the present state of his affairs. The landlord approved of the idea. In the house where Daniel and Gertrude were living there were two vacant rooms in the attic. Gertrude suggested to her father that it would be well for him to take them. Jordan agreed with her.

Eleanore began to think the situation over: if Father moves into those rooms, I can leave him. She learned from Gertrude, who came now to see her father every other day, that Daniel had received the appointment as Kapellmeister at the City Theatre. Eleanore could carry out her plans then with a clear conscience, for her brother-in-law and her sister were getting along quite well at present.

She recalled some conversations she had had with M. Rivière, who had advised her to go to Paris. Since Christmas, when he was invited to be present at the distribution of the presents, he had been coming to Jordan’s quite frequently to talk French with Eleanore. This was in accord with her express desire.

One afternoon she went to visit M. Rivière. He was living in the romantic place up by the gardener on Castle Hill. His room had a balcony that was completely overgrown with ivy and elder, while in the background the trees and bushes of the city moat formed an impenetrable maze of green. The spring air floated into the room in waves. As Eleanore made her business known, she fixed her enchanted eyes on a bouquet of lilies of the valley that stood on the table in a bronze vase.

M. Rivière took a handful of them, and gave them to her. They had not been cut; they had been pulled up by the roots. Eleanore laughed happily at the fragrance.

M. Rivière said he was just about to write to his mother in Paris, and as she was so familiar with the city, she could be of great help to Eleanore.

Eleanore stepped out on the balcony. “The world is beautiful,” she thought, and smiled at the fruitless efforts of a tiny beetle to climb up a perpendicular leaf. “Perhaps it was after all merely a dream,” she thought, and thereby consoled herself.

When she returned, Daniel was at her father’s. The two men were sitting in the dark.

Eleanore lighted the lamp. Then she filled a glass with water, and put the lilies of the valley in it.

“Daniel wants to know why you never visit them any more,” said Jordan, weak and distraught as he now always was. “I told [210]him you were busy at present with great plans of your own. Well, what does the Frenchman think about it?”

Eleanore answered her father’s question in a half audible voice.

“Go wherever you want to go, child,” said Jordan. “You have been prepared for an independent life in the world for a long while; there is no doubt about that. God forbid that I should put any hindrances in your way.” He got up with difficulty, and turned toward the door of his room. Taking hold of the latch, he stopped, and continued in his brooding way: “It is peculiar that a man can die by inches in a living body; that a man can have the feeling that he’s no longer a part of the present; and that he can no longer play his rôle, keep up with his own people, grasp what is going on about him, or know whether what is to come is good or evil. It is fearful when a man reaches that stage, fearful—fearful!”

He left the room, shaking his head. To Daniel his words sounded like a voice from the grave.

They had been silent for a long while, he and Eleanore. Suddenly he asked gruffly: “Are you serious about going to Paris?”

“Of course I am,” she said, “what else can I do?”

He sprang up, and looked angrily into her face: “One has to be ashamed of one’s self,” he said, “human language becomes repulsive. Don’t you have a feeling of horror when you think? Don’t you shudder when you reflect on that caricature known as the heart, or the soul, or whatever it may be called?”

“I don’t understand you, Daniel,” said Eleanore. She would never have considered it possible that he would look with disfavour on her contrition and the decision that had sprung from it. Then it had not after all been the flash of a solitary second? Had she not hoped and expected to hear a self-accusation from him that would make her forget all and forgive herself? Where was she? In what world or age was she living?

“Do you believe that I merely wanted to enjoy a diverting and momentary side-step?” Daniel continued, measuring her with his eyes from head to foot. “Do you believe that it is possible to jest with the most sacred laws of nature? You have had a good schooling, I must say; you do your teachers honour. Go! I don’t need you. Go to Paris, and let me degenerate!”

He stepped to the door. Then he turned, and took the lamp, which she had removed from the holder when she lighted it. Holding the lamp in his right hand, he walked close up to her. Her [211]eyes closed involuntarily. “I simply wanted to see whether it was really you,” he said with passionate contempt. “Yes, it is you,” he said scornfully, “it is you.” With that he placed the lamp on the table.

“I don’t understand you, Daniel,” she said softly. She looked around for some object to rest her eyes on.

“So I see. Good night.”

“Daniel!”

But he had already gone. The hall door closed with a bang. The house sang with solitude.

The green threadbare sofa, the old, old smoke stains on the whitewashed ceiling, the five rickety chairs that reminded her of so many decrepit old men, the mirror with the gilded angel of stucco at the top—all these things were so tiring, so irksome, so annoying: they were like underbrush in the forest.

Little brother! Little brother!

IV

Three evenings of the week were devoted to opera, the others to drama.

The first Kapellmeister was a middle-aged man whose curly hair made him the idol of all flappers. He was lazy, uncultivated, and his name was Lebrecht.

The director was an old stager who referred to the public about as a disrespectful footman refers to his lord. At Daniel’s suggestions for improving the repertory, he generally shrugged his shoulders. The operas in which he had the greatest confidence as drawing cards were “The Beggar Student,” “Fra Diavolo,” “L’Africaine,” and “Robert le Diable.” The singers and the orchestra were not much better than those of the lamented Dörmaul-Wurzelmann troupe. The possibility of arousing them to intensified effort or filling them with a semblance of intelligent enthusiasm for art was even less. Privileges based on length of service and the familiar traditions of indolence made æsthetic innovations unthinkable.

Wherever careworn Philistines and slothful materialists occupy the seats from which art should raise her voice, advancement, progress born of sacrificial application, is out of the question: the most it is reasonable to expect is a bourgeois fulfilment of inescapable duties. In such, cases the flower droops; the dream vanishes; [212]the free-born spirit has the choice of fighting day in and day out against the collective demons of pettiness and mediocrity, or of going down in admitted defeat.

“Stuff the people can easily digest, my dear boy, that is the idea,” said the director.

“What are you so excited about? Don’t you know these people haven’t a musical muscle in their whole soul?” said Lebrecht.

“For nine consecutive years I have been singing F sharp at this opera house, and now here comes a musicien from the backwoods and demands all of a sudden that I sing F!” This was the commentary of Fräulein Varini, the prima donna whose outstanding bosom had long been a source of human merriment to pit, stall, and gallery.

“Ah, he is a greasy grind determined to arrive,” said the first violinist.

“He’s a spit-fire,” said the lad who beat the big drum, when Daniel threatened to box his ears for a false intonation.

The Baroness had secured a publisher in Leipzig for his cycle of sixteen songs; the compositions were to be brought out at her expense. That did not have the right effect: it was not something, Daniel felt, that he had fought for and won; it was not a case where merit had made rejection impossible. He had the feeling that he was selling his soul and was being paid to do it. Moreover, and worst of all, he had to express his gratitude for this act. The Baroness loved to have somebody thank her for what she had done. She never once suspected that what Daniel wanted was not benefactors, but people who were stirred to the depths of their souls by his creations. The rich cannot sense the feelings of the poor; the higher classes remain out of contact with the lower.

His excitability saved him. In his magnificent solicitude for the mission that is at once the token and the curse of those who are really called, he shut himself off from a world from which the one thing he wanted was bread; bread and nothing else.

After the publication of the songs a review appeared in the Phœnix which had a remarkably realistic ring to the ear of the layman. As a matter of fact it was merely an underhanded attempt at assassination. The thing was signed with a big, isolated “W.” Wurzelmann, the little slave, had shot from his ambush.

Other musical journals copied this review. A half dozen people bought the songs; then they were forgotten.

It was no use to hope. The trouble was, he needed bread, just bread.

[213]

V

It was often difficult for him to find the peace and quiet necessary for effective work. May brought cold weather; they had to make a fire; the stove smoked; the potter came in and removed the tiles; the room looked like an inferno.

Gertrude was pounding sugar: “Don’t be angry at me, Daniel; I must pound the sugar to-day.” And she pounded away until the hammer penetrated the paralysed brain of the listener by force of circumstances.

The hinges of the door screeched. “You ought to oil them, Gertrude.” Gertrude looked high and low for the oil can, and when she finally found it, she had no feather to use in smearing the oil on. She went over to the chancellor’s, and borrowed one from her maid. While she was gone, the milk boiled over and filled the house with a disagreeable stench.

The door bell rang. It was the cobbler; he had come to get the money for the patent leather shoes. The wives of Herr Kirschner and Herr Rübsam had both said that Daniel must not think of appearing at the coming recital at the Baroness’s without patent leather shoes.

“I haven’t the money, Gertrude; have you got that much?”

Gertrude went through her chests, and scraped up five marks which she gave the cobbler as a first instalment. The man went away growling; Daniel hid from him.

Gertrude was sitting in the living room making clothes for her baby-to-come. There was a happy expression on her face. Daniel knew that it was a display of maternal joy and expectation, but since he could not share this joy, since indeed he felt a sense of fear at the appearance of the child, her happiness embittered him.

Between the fuchsias in the window stood a robin red-breast; the impish bird had its head turned to one side, and was peeping into the room: “Come out,” it chirped, “come out.” And Daniel went.

He had an engagement with M. Rivière at the café by the market place. Since he no longer saw anything of Eleanore, he wanted to find out how her plans for going to Paris were getting along.

The Frenchman told of the progress he was making in his Caspar Hauser research. In his broken German he told of the murder of body and soul that had been committed in the case of [214]the foundling: “He was a mortal man comme une étoile,” he said. “The bourgeoisie crushed him. The bourgeoisie is the racine of all evil.”

Daniel never mentioned Eleanore’s name. He tried to satisfy himself by the fact that she kept out of his sight. He bit his lips together, and said: I will. But a stronger power in him said, No, you won’t. And this stronger power became a beggar. It went around saying, Give me, please, give me!

The billiard balls rattled. A gentleman in a red velvet vest had a quarrel with a shabby looking fellow who had been reading Fliegende Blätter for the last two hours; he would begin over and over again at the very beginning, and break out into convulsions of laughter every time he came to his favourite jokes.

Daniel was silent; he insisted somehow on remaining silent. M. Rivière wished, for this reason, to hear something about the “Harzreise.” By way of starting a discussion he remarked quite timidly that sans musique la vie est insupportable, “There is something about music that reminds one of insanity,” he remarked. He said there were nights when he would open a volume of Schubert’s or Brahms’s songs, leaf through them, read the notes, and hum the melodies simply in order to escape the despair which the conduct of the people about him was emptying into his heart. “Moi, I ought to be, how do you say? stoic; mais I am not. In me there is trop de musique, et c’est le contraire.”

Daniel looked at him in astonishment. “Come with me,” he said suddenly, got up, and took him by the arm.

They met Eleanore in the hall. She had been up in the new flat with the whitewasher. Her father was to move in the following day.

“Why was all this done so quickly?” asked Daniel, full of a vague happiness that drew special nourishment from the fact that Eleanore was plainly excited.

“Mere chance,” she said, and carefully avoided looking at him. “A captain who is being transferred here from Ratisbon is moving in our place. It is a pity to leave the good old rooms. The second-hand dealer is going to get a deal of our stuff; there is no room for it up there in those two cubby holes. How is Gertrude? May I go up and see her for a minute or two?”

“Yes, go right up,” said Daniel stiffly; “you can stay and listen if you wish to. I am going to play the Harzreise.”

“If I wish to? I almost have a right to; you promised me this long ago.”

[215]

“She thinks after all that I want to catch her,” he thought to himself. “It will be better for me to drop the whole business than to let the idea creep into her stupid skull that my composition is going to make propaganda for our private affairs.” With bowed head he ascended the stairs, M. Rivière and Eleanore following along behind. His ears were pricked to hear anything they might say about Paris; they talked about the weather.

As they entered the room Gertrude had the harp between her knees; but she was not playing. Her hands lay on the strings, her head was resting on the frame. “Why haven’t you lighted a lamp?” asked Daniel angrily.

She was terrified; she looked at him anxiously. The expression on her face made him conscious of many things that he had kept in the background of his thoughts during his everyday life: her unconditional surrender to him; the magnanimity and nobility of her heart, which was as dependent on his as the mercury in the thermometer is dependent on the atmosphere; her speechless resignation regarding a thousand little things in her life! her wellnigh supernatural ability to enter into the spirit and enjoyment of what he was doing, however much his mind might presume to write De profundis across his creations.

It was on this account that he recognised in her face a serious, far-away warning. At once cowardly and reverential, conscious of his guilt and yet feeling innocent, he went up to her and kissed her on the hair. She leaned her head on his breast, thus causing him to feel, though quite unaware of it herself, the whole weight of the burden she was placing on him.

He told her he was going to play. He said: “I have lost my picture again; I want to try to find it in others.”

Gertrude begged him, with a pale face, to be permitted to stay in the living room. She closed the door only partly.

VI

In Goethe’s verses entitled “Harzreise im Winter,” thoughts lie scattered about like erratic strata in the world of geology, and feelings that are as big and terrible as the flames from burning planets. In Daniel’s work the whole of Goethe’s prodigious sorrow and solemnity seemed to have been transformed automatically into music.

When, in the second half, the motif of human voices was taken over, when these voices pealed forth first singly, one by one, [216]from the surging sea of tones, and then gathered with ever-increasing avidity, longing, and candour into the great chorus, one had the feeling that without this liberation they would have been stifled in the darkness.

The effect of the pianissimo moaning of the basses before the soprano set in was overwhelming: it was like the vulture which, resting with easy wing on the dark morning cloud, spies around for booty. So was the song meant to be. The trombone solo was a shout of victory: it imparted new life to the sunken orchestra.

Daniel had infinite trouble in making all this wealth of symbolic art clear through song, word, and gesture at the same time that his music was being played.

The work abounded in blends and half tones which stamped it as a child of its age, and still more of ages to come, despite the compact rigidity of its architecture. There was no bared sweetness in it; it was as rough as the bark of a tree; it was as rough as anything that is created with the assurance of inner durability.

Its rhythm was uniform, regular; it provided only for crescendos. There was nothing of the seductive, nothing of the waltz-fever in it. It was in no way cheap; it did not flatter slothful ears. It had no languishing motifs; it was all substance and exterior. The melody was concealed like a hard kernel in a thick shell; and not merely concealed: it was divided, and then the divisions were themselves divided. It was condensed, compressed, bound, and at the same time subterranean. It was created to rise from its depths, rejoice, and overwhelm: “But clothe the lonely one in thy clouds of gold! Enshroud with ivy until the roses bloom again, oh Love, the dampened hair of thy poet!”

The work was written a quarter of a century before its time. It was out of touch with the nerves of its contemporary environment. It could not hope to count upon a prophet or an interpreter. It could not be carried further by the benevolence of congenial champions. It bore the marks of mortal neglect. It was like a bird from the tropics left to die on the icy coasts of Greenland.

But for those who are near in heart there is a fluid in the air that intercedes for the higher truth. M. Rivière and Eleanore scarcely breathed during the recital. Eleanore’s big eyes were still: they opened and closed slowly. When Daniel finished, he dried his hot brow with his handkerchief, and then his arms fell limp at his sides. He felt as if the brilliancy of Eleanore’s eyes had reached the tips of his hair and had electrified it.

[217]

“Enshroud with ivy, until the roses bloom again, oh Love, the dampened hair of thy poet!”

“It is impossible to get an idea of it,” murmured Daniel; “the piano is like an instrument of torture.”

They were struck by peculiar sounds coming from the living room. They went in, and found Gertrude pale as death, her hands folded across her bosom, sitting on the sofa. She was talking to herself, partly as if in a dream, partly as if she were praying. It was impossible to understand what she was saying. She seemed distant, estranged.

Eleanore hastened to her; Daniel looked at her with a scowl. Just then the bell rang, and M. Rivière went out. There was the sound of a man’s voice; it was disagreeable. The door was opened and—Herr Carovius entered.

VII

Herr Carovius bowed in all directions. He wore tan shoes with brass buckles, black trousers, a shiny green coat, and a white cravat that could no longer be called clean. He laid his slouch hat on a chair, and said he would like to beg their pardon if he had called at an inopportune hour. He had come, he said, to thank his dear young master for the aforementioned invitation.

“It seems—yes, it seems,” he added, with a droll blinking of his eyes, “that I have in all innocence interrupted the performance of a most interesting production. There is a crowd of people gathered out in front of the house, and I could not forego the pleasure of listening. I hope you will not stop playing the sacrificial festival on my account. What was it, maestro? It wasn’t the symphony, was it?”

“Yes, it was the symphony,” replied Daniel, who was so amazed at the appearance and conduct of the man that he was really courteous.

“It cost me money to be sure—believe it or not. I had to get an afternoon coat that would do for a Count—latest cut, velvet collar, tails that reached down to my calves. Aristocratic, very!” He stared over Gertrude’s head into the corner, and tittered for at least a half a minute.

Nobody said a word. Everybody was dumb, astounded.

“Good lord, social obligations,” continued Herr Carovius, “but after all you can’t afford to be a backwoodsman. Music is supposed to ennoble a man even externally. By the way, there is a[218] rumour afloat that it is a symphony with chorus. How did you happen upon the idea? The laurels of the Ninth will not let you sleep? I would have thought that you didn’t give a damn about classical models. Everybody is so taken up now with musical lullabies, wage-la-wei-a, that kind of stuff, you know. But then I suppose that is only a transition stage, as the fox said when he was being skinned.”

He took off his nose glasses, polished them very hastily, fumbled for a while with his cord, and then put them on again. Having gained time in this way, he began to expatiate on the decadence of the arts, asked Daniel whether he had ever heard anything about a certain Hugo Wolf who was being much talked about and who was sitting in darkest Austria turning out songs like a Hottentot, made a number of derogatory remarks about a fountain that was being erected in the city, said that a company of dancers had just appeared at the Cultural Club in a repertory of grotesque pantomimes, remarked that as he was coming over he learned that there was an institution in the city that loaned potato sacks, and that there had just been a fearful fire in Constantinople.

Thereupon he looked first at Daniel, then at M. Rivière, took the snarls of the one and the embarrassment of the other to be encouraging signs for the continuation of his gossip, readjusted his glasses, and sneezed. Then he smoothed out the already remarkably smooth hairs he had left on his head, rubbed his hands as if he were beginning to feel quite at home, and tittered when there was any sign of a stoppage in his asinine eloquence.

At times he would cast a stealthy glance at Gertrude, who would draw back somewhat as the arm of a thief who feels he is being watched. Eleanore did not seem to be present so far as he was concerned: he did not see her. Finally she got up. She was tortured by the interruption of what she had just experienced from the music and by his flat, stale, and unprofitable remarks. Then he got up too, looked at his watch as if he were frightened, asked if he might repeat his visit at another time, took leave of Gertrude with a silly old-fashioned bow, from Daniel with a confidential handshake, and from the Frenchman with uncertain courtesy. Eleanore he again entirely overlooked.

Out in the hall he stopped, nodded several times, and said with an almost insane grin, speaking into the empty air before him: “Auf Wiedersehen, fair one! Auf Wiedersehen, fairest of all! Good-bye, my angel! Forget me not!”

[219]

In the room Eleanore whispered in a heavy, anxious tone: “What was that? What was that?”

VIII

Philippina Schimmelweis came to help Eleanore with the moving. At first Eleanore was quite surprised; then she became accustomed to having her around and found her most helpful. Jordan took no interest in anything that was going on. The last of all his hope seemed to be shattered by the fact that he was to move.

Philippina gradually fell into the habit of coming every day and working for a few hours either for Eleanore or for Gertrude, so long as the latter had anything to do in the kitchen. They became used to seeing her, and put up with her. She tried to make as little noise as possible; she had the mien of a person who is filling an important but unappreciated office.

She made a study of the house; she knew the rooms by heart. She preferred to come along toward sunset or a little later. One day she told Eleanore she had seen a mysterious-looking person out on the hall steps. Eleanore took a candle and went out, but she could not see any one. Philippina insisted nevertheless that she had seen a man in a green doublet, and that he had made a face at her.

She was particularly attracted by the rooms in the attic. She told the neighbours that there was an owl up there. As a result of this the children of that section began to fear the entire house, while the chancellor’s wife, who lived on the ground floor, became so nervous that she gave up her apartment.

There was no outside door or entrance hall of any kind to Jordan’s new quarters. You went direct from the stairway into the room where Eleanore worked and slept. Adjoining this was her father’s room. People still called him the Inspector, although he no longer had such a position.

He sat in his narrow, cramped room the whole day. One wall was out of plumb. The windows he kept closed. When Eleanore brought him his breakfast or called him to luncheon, which she had cooked in the tiny box of a kitchen and then served in her own little room, he was invariably sitting at the table before a stack of papers, mostly old bills and letters. The arrangement of these he never changed.

Once she entered his room without knocking. He sprang up, closed a drawer as quickly as he could, locked it, put the key in [220]his pocket, and tried to smile in an innocent way. Eleanore’s heart almost stopped beating.

He never went out until it was dark, and on his return he could be seen carrying a package under his arm. This he took with him to his room.

At first Eleanore was always uneasy when she had to leave. She requested Philippina to be very careful and see to it that no stranger entered the house. Philippina had a box full of ribbons in Eleanore’s cabinet. She set a chair against the door leading into Jordan’s room; and when her hands were tired from rummaging around in the ribbons and her eyes weary from looking at all the flashy colours, she pressed her ear to the door to see if she could find out what the old man was doing.

At times she heard him talking. It seemed as if he were talking with some one. His voice had an exhortatory but tender tone in it. Philippina trembled with fear. Once she even pressed the latch; she wanted to open the door as quietly as possible, so that she might peep in and see what was really going on. But to her vexation, the door was bolted on the other side.

For Gertrude she did small jobs and ran little errands: she would go to the baker or the grocer for her. Gertrude became less and less active; it was exceedingly difficult for her to climb the stairs. Philippina took the place of a maid. The only kind of work she refused to do was work that would soil her clothes. Gertrude’s shyness irritated her; one day she said in a snappy tone: “You are pretty proud, ain’t you? You don’t like me, do you?” Gertrude looked at her in amazement, and made no reply; she did not know what to say.

Whenever Philippina heard Daniel coming, she hid herself. But if he chanced to catch sight of her, he merely shrugged his shoulders at the “frame,” as he contemptuously called her. It seemed to him that it would be neither wise nor safe to mistreat her. He felt that it was the better part of valour to look with favour on her inexplicable diligence, and let it go at that.

Once he even so completely overcame himself that he gave her his hand; but he drew it back immediately: he felt that he had never touched anything so slimy in his life; he thought he had taken hold of a frog. Philippina acted as if she had not noticed what he had done. But scarcely had he gone into his room, when she turned to Gertrude with a diabolic glimmer in her eyes, and, making full use of her vulgar voice, said: “Whew! Daniel’s kind, ain’t he? No wonder people can’t stand him!”

[221]

When she saw that Gertrude knit her brow at this exclamation, she wheeled about on the heels of her clumsy shoes, and screamed as if the devil were after her: “Oi, oi, Gertrude, Gertrude, oi, oi, the meat’s burning! The meat’s burning.”

It was a false alarm. The meat was sizzling quite peacefully in the pan.

IX

Late in the afternoon of a stormy day in June Daniel came home from the last rehearsal of the “Harzreise,” tired and out of humour. The rehearsals had been held in a small room in Weyrauth’s Garden. He had quarrelled with all the musicians and with all the singers, male and female.

As he reached Ægydius Place a shudder suddenly ran through his body. He was forced to cover his eyes with his hands and stand still for a moment; he thought he would die from longing for a precious virginal possession which he had been so foolish as to trifle away.

He went up the steps, passed by his own apartment, and climbed on up to the apartment of Inspector Jordan and his daughter Eleanore.

His eye fell on the board partition surrounding the stove and the copper cooking utensils that hung on the wall. There sat Eleanore, her arm resting on the window sill, her head on her hand: she was meditating—meditating and gaining new strength as she did so. Her face was turned toward the steep fall of a roof, the century-old frame-work, grey walls, darkened window panes and dilapidated wooden galleries, above which lay stillness and a rectangular patch of sky that was then covered with clouds.

“Good evening,” said Daniel, as he stepped out of the darkness into the dimly lighted room. “What are you doing, Eleanore, what are you thinking about?”

Eleanore shuddered: “Ah, is it you, Daniel? You show yourself after a long while? And ask what I am thinking about? What curiosity! Do you want to come into my room?”

“No, no, sit perfectly still,” he replied, and prevented her from getting up by touching her on the shoulder. “Is your father at home?”

She nodded. He drew a narrow bench from which he had removed the coffee mill and a strainer up to the serving table, and sat down as far as possible from Eleanore, though even so they [222]were as close together as if they were sitting opposite each other in a cab.

“How are you making out?” she asked with embarrassment, and without the remotest display of warmth.

“You know that I am beating a perforated drum, Eleanore.” After a pause he added: “But whatever people may do or fail to do, between us two there must be a clear understanding: Are you going to Paris?”

She dropped her head in silence. “Well, I could go; there is nothing to prevent me,” she said, softly and with hesitation. “But you see how it is. I am no longer as I used to be. Formerly I could scarcely picture the happiness I would derive from having some one there in whom I could confide and who would be interested in me. I would not have hesitated for a moment. But now? If I go, what becomes clear from my going? And if I stay here, what will be clear? I have already told you, Daniel, that I don’t understand you. How terrible it is to have to say that! What do you want now? How is all this going to come out?”

“Eleanore, do you recall Benda’s last letter? You yourself brought it to me, and after that I was a different person. He wrote to me in that letter just as if he had never heard of Gertrude, and said that I should not pass you by. He wrote that we two were destined for each other, and neither for any one else in the world. Of course you recall how I acted after reading the letter. And even before that: Do you remember the day of the wedding when you put the myrtle wreath on? Why, I knew then that I had lost everything, that my real treasure had vanished. And even before that: Do you recall that I found that Fräulein Sylvia von Erfft had your complexion, your figure, your hair, and your hands? And even before that: When you went walking with Benda in the woods, I walked along behind, and took so much pleasure in watching you walk, but I didn’t know it. And when you came into the room there in the Long Row, and caressed the mask and sat down at the piano and leaned your head against the wood, don’t you recall how indispensable you were to me, to my soul? The only trouble is, I didn’t know it; I didn’t know it.”

“Well, there is nothing to be done about all that: that is a by-gone story,” said Eleanore, holding her breath, while a blush of emotion flitted across her face only to give way to a terrible paleness.

“Do you believe that I am a person to be content with what is [223]past? Every one, Eleanore, owes himself his share of happiness, and he can get it if he simply makes up his mind to it. It is not until he has neglected it, abandoned it, and passed it by, that his fate makes a slave out of him.”

“That is just what I do not understand,” said Eleanore, and looked into his face with a more cheerful sense of freedom. “It wounds my heart to see you waging a losing battle against self-deception and ugly defiance. We two cannot think of committing a base deed, Daniel. It is impossible, isn’t it?”

Daniel, plainly excited, bent over nearer to her: “Do you know where I am standing?” he asked, while the blue veins in his temples swelled and hammered: “Well, I’ll tell you. I am standing on a marble slab above an abyss. To the right and left of this abyss are nothing but blood-thirsty wolves. There is no choice left to me except either to leap down into the abyss, or to allow myself to be torn to pieces by the wolves. When such a being as you comes gliding along through the air, a winged creature like you, that can rescue me and pull me up after it, is there any ground for doubt as to what should be done?”

Eleanore folded her arms across her bosom, and half closed her eyes: “Ah no, Daniel,” she said in a kindly way, “you are exaggerating, really. You see everything too white and too black: A winged creature, I? Where, pray, are my wings? And wolves? All these silly little people—wolves? Oh no, Daniel. And blood-thirsty? Listen, Daniel, that is going quite too far; don’t you think so yourself?”

“Don’t crush my feelings, Eleanore!” cried Daniel, in a suppressed tone and with passionate fierceness: “Don’t crush my feelings, for they are all I have left. You are not capable of thinking as you have just been talking, you cannot think that low, you are not capable of such languid, ordinary feelings. The over-tone! The over-tone! Think a little! Can’t you see them gritting their teeth at me? Can’t you hear them howling day and night? Can you possibly say that they are kind or compassionate? Or are they willing to be good and great when one comes? Do you have confidence in a single one of them? Have they not even dragged your good name into the mire? Are any of the things that are sacred to you and to me sacred to them? Can they be moved the one-thousandth part of an inch by your distress or my distress or the distress of any human being? Is not the slime of slander thick upon their tongues? Is not your smile a thorn in their flesh? Do they not envy me the little I have and for [224]which I have flayed myself? Don’t they envy me my music, which they do not understand, and which they hate because they do not understand it? Would it not fill them with joy if I had to make my living beating stones on the public highway or cleaning out sewers? Do they find it possible to pardon me for my life and the things that make up my life? And yet you say there are no wolves? That they are not wolves? Tell me that you are afraid of them, that you do not wish to turn them against yourself; but don’t tell me that you are committing an evil act when I call you to me, you with your wings, and you come.”

His arms were stretched out toward her on the top of the kitchen table; they were trembling to the very tips of his fingers.

“The evil deed, Daniel,” whispered Eleanore, “hasn’t anything to do with these people; it was committed against the higher law of morals, against our feeling of right usage and established honour....”

“False,” he hissed, “false! They have made you believe that. They have preached that to you for centuries and centuries; your mother, your grand-mother, your great-grand-mother, they have all been telling you that. It is false; it is a lie; it is all a lie. It is with this very lie that they support their power and protect their organisation. It is truth on the contrary that fills my heart, fills it with joy, and helps me along. What nature offers, obedience to nature, that is truth. Truth lies in your thoughts, in your feelings, girl, in your choked feelings, in your blood, in the ‘yes’ you speak in your dreams. Of course I know that they need their lie, for they must be organised, the wolves; they must go in packs, otherwise they are impotent. But I have only my truth, only my truth as I stand on the marble slab above the abyss.”

“Your truth, Daniel,” said Eleanore, “your truth. But your truth is not my truth.”

“No, Eleanore? No? Not yours? What then is the use of my talking with you? And even if everything else were falsehood and error, I am as convinced as I can be that my truth is also your truth.”

“You can’t stand out against the whole world,” said Eleanore in anguish, “you are after all in the world yourself.”

“Yes, I will take my stand against the whole world,” he said, “that is precisely what I have made up my mind to do. I will pay them back in their own coin. Just as they have all stood against me, just so will I stand against them. I am no compromiser, no treaty-maker, no haggler, no beggar. I live according to my [225]own law. I must, where other people merely should or may, or may not. Whoever does not comprehend that has nothing in common, one way or the other, with me.”

She was terrified at the presumptuousness of his words; and yet there was a feeling in her of joy and pride: she felt a desire to be for him, to be with him. If he was fighting against the very power that would in the end overcome him, he was doing it for her sake. She did not feel, therefore, that she had the right to withdraw from him. The thing about it all that gave her a wonderful feeling of relief, and at the same time made her morally flabby and carried her away, was the passion of his will and the undaunted assurance of his feelings.

But their eyes chanced to meet; and in the eyes of each there was the name of Gertrude.

Gertrude stood between them in living form. Everything they had said had proceeded from her and returned to her. That Daniel was not thinking of annulling his marriage, that he could not think of it, Eleanore knew. A child was expected; who could reject the mother under these circumstances? How would it be possible, poor as they were, to expose both mother and child to the inevitable misery that would follow annulment of the marriage? Daniel could not do this, and Eleanore knew it.

But she also knew, for she knew her sister, that separation from Daniel would mean her death. She knew too that Daniel considered his marriage to Gertrude as indissoluble, not only because of his knowledge of her character, but because there was in his life with Gertrude something that is quite independent of passions, views, and decisions, something that binds even in hate and binds even more firmly in despair.

Eleanore knew all this. She knew that Daniel knew it. And if she drew the only conclusion that could be drawn from his argument and his state of mind, she knew what he demanded of her.

He was demanding that she give herself up to him. Of this there could be not a shred of doubt.

But how? Secretly? Could that produce happiness? With the understanding of Gertrude? Could Gertrude endure such a thought, even if she were as magnanimous as a saint? Where was the way that could be followed? Where was there an angle from which embarrassment, anxiety, and ruin were not ready to leap forth without warning?

She bowed her head, and covered it with her hands. She sat [226]in this position for a long while. Darkness settled down over the roofs of the houses.

Suddenly she got up, reached him her hand, smiled with tears in her eyes, and said with a last attempt to escape the horrible consequences, “Brüderlein.[1]...” She spoke the word in a tone of longing fervour and half-humorous appealing.

[1] “Little brother.”

He shook his head sadly, but took her hand and held it tenderly between his.

Her face became clouded; it was like a landscape at the coming of night. Her eyes, turned to one side, saw the trees of a great garden, an ugly old woman sitting by a hedge, and two little girls who looked into the setting sun with fear in their hearts.

There was a noise; she and Daniel were startled. In the doorway stood Philippina Schimmelweis. Her eyes glistened like the skin of a reptile that has just crept up from out of the bog.

Daniel went down to his apartment.

X

For nine years the rococo hall in the Auffenberg home had been closed to festive celebrations of every kind. It took a long, tedious exchange of letters between the secretary of the Baron living in Rome and the secretary of the Baroness to get the permission of the former to use the hall.

The indignation at Nothafft’s work was general. The members of the social set could hardly contain themselves, while the amateurs and specially invited guests were likewise but little edified. The chief diversion of the evening, in fact, was to see the composer himself conduct. At the sight of the jumping and sprawling fellow, Herr Zöllner, councillor of the consistory, almost burst with laughter.

Old Count Schlemm-Nottheim, who not only had a liking for pornographic literature but was also known to drink a quarter of a litre of Dr. Rosa’s balsam of life every afternoon, declared that the ensemble playing of all the instruments represented by the show-booths at the annual fair was an actual musical revelation in comparison with this Dutch concert of rogues’ marches. Judge Braun of the Supreme Court gave it as his candid opinion that there was evidently a conspiracy against good taste.

Remarks of this kind were, of course, made behind screens and [227]in the corners. In order not to offend the Baroness, there was a goodly measure of seemingly cordial applause. The guests and artists then assembled around a huge table arranged in the shape of a horseshoe.

Count Schlemm-Nottheim was the table companion of the Baroness; he had her tell him who the various personages from the world of art were. He asked who was the woman of such interesting melancholy sitting next to Major Bellmann. He was told that that was the wife of the composer. His wife? She is not at all bad; life with her would be rather worth while. And who was the woman between old Herold and the Frenchman? A charming little creature: she had eyes like the Lake of Liguria and hands like a princess. That was the sister of the composer’s wife. Sister? You don’t tell me! A jolly fine family; worth the support of any man.

Toasts were drunk. Herr Ehrenreich, the wholesale merchant, drank to the health of the creator of the “Harzreise”; the Count to the ladies present.

Herr Carovius created a sensation. He sat with the members of the “Liedertafel”; they had sung in the chorus; and they were ashamed of him, for he conducted himself in a most unseemly fashion.

He had somehow managed to get hold of a glove Eleanore had lost, and possibly it was this that made him so convivial. He picked up an almond shell from the serving tray, and threw it at Fräulein Varini. He let his leery, lascivious eyes roam about over the cut glass and the decorations of the hall, and never once grew tired of praising the wealth and splendour of the house. He acted as though he were quite at home. He raised his wine glass, and declared that he was charmed by the flavour and colour of the costly, precious juice from the grape: he tried to give the impression that he knew the Auffenberg wine cellar from years of intimate association with it.

Then it happened that through a hasty, awkward movement, he upset his plate; a rivulet of rich brown gravy ran down over his white vest. He became silent; he retired within himself. He dipped his napkin in the water, and rubbed and rubbed. The waiters tittered. He buttoned up his coat, and looked like a show window in the dead of night.

The eyes of the waiters were also given the privilege of feasting on another rare social phenomenon. They noticed that Kapellmeister Nothafft was sitting at the table in his stocking feet. His [228]patent leather shoes had hurt him so much that he made short work of it and took them off during the dinner. There they stood without master or servant, one at the right, the other at the left of his disencumbered feet. Whenever the waiters passed by, they would cast one furtive but profitable glance under the table, and bite their lips to keep from bursting out in laughter.

This rude offence to social dignity was not unknown to the other dinner guests. They whispered, smiled, shrugged their shoulders, and shook their heads. Daniel made no effort to conceal his bootlessness when the guests rose to leave the table; without giving the astonishment of his companions a single thought, he once more drew the patent leather torturers on to his extremities. But he had made a mistake: he had gambled and lost.

The news of the extraordinary event was fully exploited on the following day. It was carried from house to house, accumulated momentous charm in its course, passed from the regions of the high to those of the less high and quite low, and provoked storms of laughter everywhere. No one had anything to say about the symphony; everybody was fully informed concerning the patent leather episode.

XI

On the way home Daniel walked with Eleanore. Gertrude followed at some distance with M. Rivière; she could not walk rapidly.

“How did you find it, Eleanore? Didn’t you have the feeling that you were at a feast of corpses?”

“Dear,” she murmured; they walked on.

After they had gone along for some time in perfect silence, they came to a narrow gateway. Eleanore suddenly felt that she could no longer endure Daniel’s mute questioning. She pulled her silk veil closer to her cheeks, and said: “Give me time! Don’t hurry me! Please give me time!”

“If I hadn’t given you time, my dear girl, I should not have deserved this moment,” he replied.

“I cannot, I cannot,” she said, with a sigh of despair. She had only one hope, one ray of hope left, and her whole soul was fixed on that. But she was obliged to act in silence.

Standing in the living room with Gertrude, Daniel’s eye fell on the mask of Zingarella; it had been decorated with rose twigs. Under the green young leaves fresh buds shone forth; they hung [229]around the white stucco of the mask like so many little red lanterns. “Who did that?” he asked.

“Eleanore was here in the afternoon; she did it,” replied Gertrude.

His burning eyes were riveted on the mask, when Gertrude stepped up to him, threw her arms around him, and in the fulness of her feelings exclaimed: “Daniel, your work was wonderful, wonderful!”

“So? Did you like it? I am glad to hear it,” he said, in a tone of dry conventionality.

“The people don’t grasp it,” she said gently, and then added with a blush: “But I understand it; I understand it, for it belongs to me.”

The following day he laid the score of the “Harzreise” together with the words in a big old chest, and locked it. It was like a funeral.

XII

In the dark, winding alleys behind the city wall stand little houses with large numbers and coloured lanterns. They are filled with a sweetish, foul odour, and have been laboriously built up out of dilapidated lumber-rooms. From the cracks in the closed blinds come forth, night after night, the sounds of shrill laughter. Those who enter are received by half-nude monsters, and are made to sit down on monstrous chairs and sofas covered with red plush.

The citizen calls these places dens of vice. Between Friday and Sunday he thinks with lustful horror of the inhabitants with their bloated or emaciated bodies and the sad or intoxicated stare of their eyes.

Herr Carovius wended his way to this quarter of the city. Because it was only a shadow which he embraced in hours when his inflamed imagination, vitiated by all the poisons of the earth, conjured up a human body, he was angry; now he went there, and bought himself a real human body.

After he had been in a half a dozen of these houses, had been jubilantly greeted, and then thrown out to the accompaniment of bawdy abuse, he at last found what he had been looking for: a creature whose cunning had not entirely been lost, who still had the features of a daughter of man, and whose figure and character still had the power to call up a memory, provided one were firmly [230]decided to see what one wished to see and to forget what one wished to forget.

Her name was Lena, charming reminder of a desired reality! He went with her as she left the circle of her companions, and followed her into the wretched hole between winding stairs and attic rooms. He rattled the coins in his pocket, and gave his orders. The nymph had to put on a street dress, set a modest hat on her head, and draw a veil over her rouged face. Thereupon he went up to her, spoke to her courteously, and kissed her hand. He had never in his life acted in so polite and chivalric a fashion in the presence of a woman.

The prostitute was frightened; she ran away. She had to be given instructions; these were given her by the madame of the house; for Herr Carovius was rattling the coins in his pocket. “You will have to be patient and indulgent; we are not prepared for such refined guests here.”

He returned. Lena had been told what to do. She soon fell into her rôle.

“To be frank,” he said to Lena, “I am inexperienced in the arts of love. I am too proud to kowtow to the berobed and bodiced idol. A woman is a woman, and a man is a man. They delude themselves and each other, or try to, into believing that each woman is a special person, and each man a man to himself. Idiocy!”

The prostitute grinned.

He walked back and forth; the room was just large enough to allow him to take three steps. He recalled the expression on Eleanore’s face during the performance of the symphony; his greedy eyes had rested on her all the while. He became enraged: “You don’t imagine that progress can be made by such amateurish efforts?” he said with a roar. “It is all hocus-pocus. There is as a matter of fact no such thing as progress in art, any more than there is progress in the course of the stars. Listen!”

He bellowed forth the first motif from the “Sonata quasi una fantasia” of Mozart: “Listen to this: Da—dada—da—daddaa! Is it possible to progress beyond that? Don’t let them make a fool of you, my angel. Be honest with yourself. He has hypnotised you. He has turned your unsuspecting heart upside down. Look at me! Are you afraid of me? I will do all in my power for you. Give me your hand. Speak to me!”

The prostitute was obliged to stretch out her arms. He sat down beside her with a solemn ceremoniousness. Then he removed [231]the pin from her hat, and laid the hat tenderly to one side. She had to lean her head on his shoulder.

With that he fell into a dreamy meditation.

XIII

Philippina came up to Gertrude in the living room. Daniel was not at home. Philippina was humming the latest street song, the refrain of which ran as follows:

Drah’ di, Madel, drah’ di,
Morgen kommt der Mahdi.

“There it is,” said Philippina, and threw a ball of yarn on the table.

Gertrude had yielded to the girl’s importunities, and was addressing her now with the familiar “thou” and allowing Philippina to do the same in speaking to her. “We are after all relatives, you know, Gertrude,” said Philippina.

Gertrude was afraid of Philippina; but she had thus far found no means of defending herself against her exaggerated eagerness to help her with the housework. And she felt in Philippina’s presence what she felt in the presence of no one else—a sense of shame at her own condition.

Philippina, in fact, saw something indecent in Gertrude’s pregnancy; when she talked to her she always held her head up and looked into space; her action was quite conspicuous.

“Oh, but ain’t people impudent,” Philippina began, after she had taken a loutish position on a chair. “The clerk over in the store asked me whether there wasn’t something up between Daniel and Eleanore. What d’ye think of that? Fresh, yes? You bet I give him all that was coming to him!”

The needle in Gertrude’s fingers stopped moving. It was not the first time that Philippina had made such insinuating remarks. To-day she would come up to Gertrude, and whisper to her that Daniel was upstairs with Eleanore; yesterday she had said in a tone of affected sympathy that Eleanore looked so run down. Then she gave a detailed report of what this person and that person had said; then she turned into a champion of good morals and gentle manners, and remarked that you ought not offend people.

Her every third word was “people.” She said she knew what a faultless character Eleanore had and how Daniel loved his wife, [232]but people! And after all you couldn’t scratch everybody’s eyes out who annoyed you with dubious questions; if you did, there would soon be very few eyes left.

Philippina’s bangs had acquired an unusual length; they covered her whole forehead down to her eyelashes. The glances she cast at Gertrude had on this account something especially malevolent about them. “She is not so certain of herself and her family after all,” thought Philippina, and made a lewd gesture with her legs as she sprawled on the chair.

“You know, I think Daniel ought to be more cautious,” she said with her rasping voice. “This being together all alone for hours at a time ain’t going to do no good; no good at all, I say. And the two are always running after each other; if it’s not her, it’s him. If you happen to take ’em by surprise, they jump like criminals. It’s been going on this way for six weeks, day after day. Do you think that’s right? You don’t need to put up with it, Gertrude,” she said in conclusion, making a sad attempt to look coquettish. Then she cast her eyes to the floor, and looked as innocent as a child.

Gertrude’s heart grew cold. Her confidence in Daniel was unfaltering, but the venomous remarks made to her left her without peace of mind or body; she could not think clearly. The very fact that such things were being said about Daniel and Eleanore, and that words failed her to stop them because from the very beginning she had borne it all with the self-assurance that naturally springs from contempt for gossip, only tended to make her grief all the more bitter.

How hollow any objection on her part would have sounded! How fatuous and ineffective a rebuke from her would have been! Could she muzzle these wicked, slanderous tongues by referring to the peculiarities of Daniel’s nature? Could he be expected to go to Philippina and give an account of himself? A contemptuous smile came to her face when she pondered on such possibilities.

And yet, why was she heart-sore? Was it because she was at last beginning to realise that she was unloved?

Involuntarily her eyes fell on the mask; it was still covered with the withered rose twigs. She got up and removed them. Her hand trembled as if she were committing some evil act.

“Go home, Philippina, I don’t need you any more,” she said.

“Oi, it is late, ain’t it? I must be going,” cried Philippina. “Don’t worry, Gertrude,” she said by way of consolation. “And don’t complain of me to your husband; he’ll git ugly if you do. [233]If you say anything bad about me, there’s going to be trouble here, I say. I am a perfect fool; people git out of my way, they do. I’ve got a wicked mouth, I have; there’s no stopping it. Well, good night.”

She rubbed her hands down over her skirt, as if she were trying to smooth out the wrinkles; there was an element of comic caution in what she did.

Out on the street she began to hum again:

Drah’ di, Madel, drah’ di,
Morgen kommt der Mahdi.

XIV

When Daniel came home, it was late; but he sat down by the lamp in his room and began to read Jean Paul’s “Titan.” In the course of time his thoughts liberated themselves from the book and went their own way. He got up, walked over to the piano, raised the lid, and struck a chord; he listened with closed eyes: it seemed that some one was calling him. It was a sultry night; the stillness was painful.

Again he struck the chord: bells from the lower world. They rang up through the green, grey mists, each distinct and delicate. Each tone sent forth its accompanying group like sparks from a skyrocket. Those related by the ties of harmony joined; those that were alien fell back and down. And up in the distant, inaccessible heights there rang out with deceiving clarity, like the last vision of earthly perfection, the melody of love, the melody of Eleanore.

Yet, some one was calling him; but from where? His wife? The distant, gloomy, waiting one? He closed the piano; the echo of the noise made thereby rebounded from the church wall through his window.

He put out the lamp, went into his bedroom, and undressed by the light of the moon. The border of the curtain was embroidered with heavy Vitruvian scrolls, the shadows of which were reflected on the floor; they made jagged, goalless paths. All these lines consisted after all of only one line.

As he lay in bed his heart began to hammer. Suddenly he knew, without looking, that Gertrude was not asleep; that she was lying there staring at the ceiling just as he was. “Gertrude!” he called.

[234]

From the slight rustling of the pillow he concluded that she turned her face to him.

“Don’t you hear me?”

“Yes, Daniel.”

“You must give me some advice; you must help me: help me and your sister, otherwise I cannot say what may happen.”

He stopped and listened, but there was not a stir: the stillness was absolute.

“It is at times possible to remain silent out of consideration for others,” he continued, “but if the silence is maintained too long, deception follows, and falsehood does not fail. But of what use is candour if it thrusts a knife into the heart of another merely in order to prepare an unblocked path for him who is candid? What good does it do to confess if the other does not understand? Two are already bleeding to death; shall the third meet with the same fate merely in order to say that the matter was talked over? The truth is, too many words have already been spoken, gruesome, shameless words, at the sound of which the innocent night of the senses vanishes. And must one bleed to death when it becomes clearer and clearer that those are not eternal laws against which war is being waged? How can I, dwarf that I am, attack eternal laws? No, it is the frail, mutable customs of human society—? Are you listening, Gertrude?”

A “yes” that sounded like a note from a bird on a distant hill greeted his ears: it was the answer to his question.

“I have reached the point where silence is no longer thinkable: there is no going any farther without you. I will neither exaggerate nor have recourse to conventional phrases: I will not speak of passion nor say that it could not be helped. It is just barely possible that everything can be helped; that a man could always have done differently if he had begun soon enough. But who can ever tell what the future may bring? And passion? There are many varieties of passion. It is the term that every swain, washed and unwashed, uses in referring to his lusts. I had never felt a passion for which a woman was guilty. But now one has seized me with hide and hair. I had imagined that I could get out of it and not bring you into it; impossible! I am burning up with this passion, Gertrude, my whole being has been changed by it; and if help is not given me, I will be ruined.”

For a time there was a death-like stillness in the room; then he continued.

“But where is help to come from? It is strange; never until [235]this thing happened did I know what holds us two together, you and me. Threads are being spun back and forth between us which no hand may touch without withering, as it is written in the Bible. There is a secret, a sacred secret, and if I offended it I would feel as though I had strangled the unborn child in your womb; and not only the child in your womb, but all the unborn children in my own breast. There is in the life of each man a woman in whom his own mother becomes young again, and to whom he is bound by an unseen, indestructible, umbilical cord. Face to face with this woman, his love, great or small, even his hate, his indifference, becomes a phantom, just as everything that we give out becomes a phantom compared with what is given to us. And there is another woman who is my own creation, the fruit of my dreams; she is my picture; I have created her from my own blood; she lay in me just as the seed lay in the bud. And she must be mine once she has been unveiled and made known to me, or I will perish of loneliness and maddened longing.”

The extravagant man pressed his face to the pillow and groaned: “She must be mine, or I will never get up from this bed. But if my way to her passes over you, Gertrude, I would have to cry out with Faust: ‘Oh, had I never been born!’”

Gertrude never uttered a sound. Minute after minute passed by. Daniel, growing calmer, listened to see if he could not hear some sound in the room. He heard nothing. The silence of his wife began to fill him with anxiety; he rose up in bed. The moon had gone down; it was pitch dark. He felt around for some matches, and lighted a candle. Holding it in his hand, he bent over Gertrude. She was as pale as death; she was looking at the ceiling with wide-opened eyes.

“Put the candle out, Daniel,” she whispered, “I have something to say to you.”

He put the candle out, and set it away.

“Give me your hand, Daniel.”

He felt for her hand; he took hold of it. It was ice cold; he laid it on his breast.

“May I stay with you, Daniel? Will you tolerate me in your home?”

“Tolerate? Gertrude, tolerate?” he asked, in a lifeless, toneless voice. “You are my wife, in the presence of God my wife,” he added, in deadened memory of the words of another.

“I will become your mother made young again, as you wish.”

“Yes, Gertrude, but how?”

[236]

“I will help you, you and Eleanore. The hearts of you two shall not bleed to death because of me. Let me stay; that is all I ask.”

“That is more easily said than done, Gertrude.” He pressed close up to her, took her in his arms, and sobbed with unexpected violence.

“It is hard; yes, it is hard. But your heart must not be allowed to bleed on my account.”

His head lay on her breast; he was seized with convulsions of grief that would not let him go until break of day.

Then all of a sudden the words came like a scream from Gertrude’s lips: “I too am a creature.”

He embraced her with warmth; and she murmured: “It is hard, Daniel, but be of good cheer, be of good cheer.”

XV

Pflaum, the apothecary, had begun to feel cramped in his house near the Church of the Holy Ghost. He had looked at several houses in the last week or two, and had finally decided on the Schimmelweis property, which was now for sale. The apothecary shop was to remain for the time being at its present location, and Jason Philip was likewise to keep his store and his residence. Herr Pflaum, being the landlord, intended to occupy the first and second floors; he had a large family.

One beautiful August afternoon, the two men—the apothecary and the bookseller—left the office of Judge Rübsam, where they had gone to sign the papers transferring the mortgage on the Schimmelweis property. A cloudless sky, already tinted with the blue of the descending sun, shone over the city.

Herr Pflaum looked the picture of happiness: his troubles seemed all to be behind him; he was manifestly facing the future without fear and without care. Jason Philip Schimmelweis, on the contrary, was plainly worried. He looked like a man who was on the down grade. There was a great grease spot on his coat. This spot told the story of domestic troubles; it revealed the fact that Jason Philip had a wife who had been ill in bed for months, and no physician in the city could diagnose her case; none knew what she was suffering from. Jason Philip was angry at his wife, at her illness, at the whole medical profession, and at the growing confusion and disorder in his affairs.

As they crossed Ægydius Place he cast a glance of unbounded [237]hatred at the house in which Daniel and Gertrude lived. But he did not say anything; he merely pinched his lips and hung his head. In so doing he noticed the grease spot on his coat, and emitted a vexed growl. “I will go along with you, Herr Apothecary, and get a bottle of benzine,” he said, turning to his companion. In his voice there was a noticeable trace of that reluctant and unwilling humility which the poor display in the presence of the rich.

“Good, good,” he said, “come right along.” He blew the air before him; for he was warm. “Greetings, greetings,” he exclaimed, and waved his hand, “what are you doing here?”

It was Herr Carovius to whom he spoke. Herr Carovius was just then standing by the fountain of the Goose Man, rapt in the sort of reflection that was peculiar to him.

“At your service, gentlemen,” he said.

“I see there are natives who study our native art,” remarked the apothecary with an ironical smile, and stopped. Jason Philip likewise stopped, and looked in a dazed, distraught way at the bronze man with the two geese. Some boys were playing ball close by the fountain. When they saw the three men looking at it, they quit playing, came up, and looked at the fountain and the men and grinned as if there were something new to be seen.

“We have no idea what riches we possess,” said Herr Carovius.

“Quite right, quite right,” nodded the apothecary.

“I have just been trying to think what meaning this group may have,” continued Herr Carovius, “there is undeniably a musical motif in it.”

“A musical motif?” murmured Jason Philip, to whom the very term music conveyed the idea of something unpleasant.

“Yes, but you have got to understand it,” said Herr Carovius rather jauntily. With that he seized the ear of a small boy who had ventured right up to his trousers’ legs; the boy screamed.

After casting an angry look at the monument, Jason Philip broke out in sudden and hearty laughter. “Now I understand,” he stammered as he coughed, “you are a fox, a sly old dodger.”

“What do you mean, gentlemen?” asked the apothecary, who had become somewhat anxious, for he feared that this outburst of hilarity was directed at him.

“Why, don’t you see? Don’t you understand?” panted Jason Philip with a scarlet red face, “the two geese—? The musical motif and the two geese—? Isn’t it clear yet?”

It was clear to Herr Carovius. He stuck the index finger of [238]his right hand in the air, and broke out in a neighing sort of laughter. Then he took the apothecary by the arm, and in the pauses between salvos of laughter he bleated: “Magnificent!—Under each arm a goose!—Priceless! Say, Herr Schimmelweis, that was good. We will allow you one on that.”

The connection was now clear to the apothecary. He slapped himself on his hips and cried: “As sure as there is a devil, that’s the best joke I ever heard in my life.”

Jason Philip Schimmelweis again got control of himself. He pressed his hands to his stomach and said breathlessly: “Who would have thought that the Goose Man moves about among us in bodily form?”

“Yes, who would have thought it?” said Herr Carovius as if conceding a point. “It is a capital shot, a real discovery. We come to the simple conclusion: Goose Man! And we are capable of drawing a conclusion, for there are three of us. According to an old proverb, Tres faciunt collegium.

“And they,” stuttered Jason Philip, pointing to the group, as tears of laughter trickled down over his pudgy cheeks, “they are three, too. See, there are three of them!”

“Right,” screamed Herr Carovius, “there are three of them, too. It is all clear.”

“Have a chew, gentlemen?” said the apothecary, taking his tobacco pouch from his pocket.

“No,” replied Jason Philip, “that joke deserves a cigar.” The remark was made between gulps of laughter.

“I suggest that we christen the story with a flask of Salvator,” said Herr Carovius.

The other two agreed to the proposal. The collegium marched across the square, stopped every now and then, broke out in fits of insuppressible laughter, and then continued on their way to the inn with parched throats.

It may have been only an evening shadow, or it may have been a rare inspiration that created the impression. But the Goose Man, standing there in all his pride behind the iron railing, seemed to follow them with his eyes, in which there were traces of sorrow and astonishment. The boys playing ball had soon forgotten the delectable episode.

[239]PHILIPPINA STARTS A FIRE

I

Daniel and Eleanore had reached a stage of mutual silence; it was not the first time, however, and it was as disagreeable now as it had been then. They would meet on the steps, and pass each other with a mere nod. If Eleanore came in to see Gertrude, Daniel withdrew.

Once Eleanore called when Gertrude was not at home. Daniel was stubborn; nor could Eleanore manage to make a single rational remark. He did not like her looks; he suspected her paleness and outward, enforced cheerfulness. “It is an undignified state of affairs, Eleanore,” he exclaimed, “we must make an end of it.”

Make an end of it? Yes—but how? This was the thought that came at once to Eleanore’s mind. Every day the chain that bound her to him became stronger.

Daniel was also tortured by the sight of Gertrude. He felt that she was watching him and that she was worried about him. More than that, the event was approaching that surrounded her with an atmosphere of suffering and made forbearance obligatory. Her features, though haggard and distorted, bore nevertheless an expression of mysterious transfiguration.

After Gertrude had noticed for some time that Daniel was being estranged from his work and that he had lost interest in everything, she decided to have a talk with Eleanore. She did it without preparation or tenderness.

“Can’t you see that you are ruining him?” she cried.

“You want me to be ruined, do you?” asked Eleanore, in surprised dismay. She had appreciated at once and without difficulty the complete range of Gertrude’s renunciation.

“What difference does it make about you?” replied Gertrude harshly; “what are you getting excited about?”

This question made Eleanore’s ideas of order and duty quake and totter. She looked at her sister with incredulous eyes and in perfect silence. It was not the happy, gentle Gertrude that had spoken, but the Gertrude of months ago, the lonely, loveless Gertrude.

What difference does it make about you? Why are you getting [240]excited? That was equivalent to saying: Make short work of your life, and don’t draw out the episode in his life any longer than you have to.

Eleanore took courage to carry out the plan she had had in mind for a long while and in which she placed her last hope.

One evening she went to Daniel and said: “I should like to go with you to Eschenbach, Daniel, and visit your mother.”

“Why do you wish to do that?” he asked in amazement. He and his mother did not write to each other: that was due first of all to their natures, and secondly to the condition in which each was now living. But he knew that Eleanore received an occasional letter from Eschenbach which she answered without consulting him. This had never seemed strange to him until now.

A few days later she repeated her wish; Daniel granted it. They decided upon the following Sunday for the excursion.

II

A warm, languid October sun shone over the land; the forests presented a gorgeous array of autumnal foliage; the fields lay stretched in barren rows; along the hills of Franconia floated clouds that looked like down driven by the wind.

They had taken the train as far as Triesdorf; from there they went on to Merckendorf by stage coach. The rest of the distance they walked. Daniel pointed to a flock of geese that were trotting around on the shore of an abandoned pond, and said: “That is our national bird; his cackle is our music. But it doesn’t sound so bad.”

A peasant woman passed by, and made the sign of the cross before the picture of a saint: “It is strange that everything has suddenly become Catholic,” said Eleanore.

Daniel nodded, and replied that when his father moved to Eschenbach a few other Protestant families were living there, all of whom joined in Protestant worship. Later, he said, most of them emigrated, leaving his mother as the only Protestant, so far as he knew, in the neighbourhood. But, Daniel remarked in the course of conversation, his mother had never had any unpleasant experience on this account, and he himself had frequently gone to church, primarily of course to hear the organ, though no one had ever taken offence at this. “There is a totally different type of people here,” he added, “people who lay greater stress on externals than we do, and yet are more secretive.”

[241]

Eleanore looked at the church tower whose Spanish-green roof rose from the valley. After a long silence she said: “I wonder whether it will be a boy or a girl, Gertrude’s baby? Oh, a girl, of course. Some day it will be in the world, and will look at me with eyes, with real eyes. How strange that a child of yours should look at me!”

“What is there strange about that? Many children are born, many look at some one.”

“What are you going to call it?” asked Eleanore.

“If it is blond and has blue eyes like yours, I am going to call it Eva.”

“Eva!” cried Eleanore, “no, that won’t do.” She herself had chosen the name of Eva for the child of the maid at the Rüdigers’. That he should now want to call Gertrude’s child by the same name seemed so strange to her.

“Why not Eva?” he asked. “There is something back of this objection on your part. Women always have something up their sleeve. Out with it! Why do you object to Eva?”

Eleanore smiled, and shook her head. She would have liked to make a clean confession to him, but she was not certain how he would take it: she was afraid he would turn back, enraged at her cunning. Once the child had been born and lay there before him, it would captivate him, and she knew it.

They had stopped and were looking out over the sunlit plains. “How alone we are!” said Daniel.

“Everything is easier here,” said Eleanore thoughtfully. “If one could only forget where one comes from, it would be easy to be happy.”

III

“I have been away for seven years,” said Daniel as they passed through the village gate. Everything seemed so ridiculously small—the Town Hall, the Church, the Market Place, and the Eschenbach Fountain. He had also pictured the houses and streets to himself as being cleaner and better kept. As he passed over the three steps at the front gate, each one of which was bulging out like a huge oyster shell, and entered the shop with its smell of spices, the past dwindled to nothing. Marian was so happy she could not speak. She reached one of her hands to Daniel, the other to Eleanore. Her first question was about Gertrude.

In the room sat a four-year-old child with blond hair and [242]marvellous blue eyes. Its little face was of the most delicate beauty, its body was delicately formed.

“Who is the child? To whom does it belong?” asked Daniel.

“It is your own child, Daniel,” said his mother.

“My own child! Yes, for heaven’s sakes—!” He blushed, turned pale, looked first at his mother, and then at Eleanore.

“It is your own flesh and blood. Don’t you ever think of Meta any more?”

“Of Meta.... Oh, I see. And you, you adopted the child? And you, Eleanore, knew all about this? And you, Mother, took the child?” He sat down at the table, and covered his face with his hands. “That was what Eleanore had in mind?” he murmured timidly to himself. “And I presume that to make the story complete the child’s name is Eva ...?”

“Yes, Eva,” whispered Eleanore, touched by the situation. “Go to your father, Eva, and shake hands with him.”

The child did as it had been told. Then Marian related to her son how Eleanore had brought the child to Eschenbach, and how Meta had married and gone to America with her husband.

Every look, every movement on the part of Marian showed how great her love for the child was: she guarded it as the apple of her eye.

The circle of wonderful events closed in around Daniel’s heart. Where responsibility lay and where guilt, where will power ended and fate began, Daniel could not say. To express gratitude would be vulgar; to conceal his emotions was difficult. He was ashamed of himself in the presence of both of the women. But when he looked at the living creature, his shame lost all meaning. And how exalted Eleanore appeared in his eyes just then! She seemed to him equally amiable and worthy of respect, whether he regarded her as an active or as a sentient, feeling woman. He almost shuddered at the thought that she was so near him; that what she had done had been done for him filled him with humility.

The strangest of all, however, was little Eva herself. He could not see enough of her; he was amazed at the trick nature had played: a human being of the noblest mien and form had been born of a gawky, uncouth servant girl. There was something divinely graceful and airy about the child. She had well-formed hands, delicate wrists, shapely ankles, and a clear, transparent forehead, on which a network of bluish veins spread out in various directions. Her laughter was the purest of music; and in her [243]walk and gestures in general there was a rhythm which promised much for her future poise and winsomeness.

Daniel took Eleanore through the village and out to the old town gate. It was the time of the annual fair; Eschenbach was crowded. They returned on this account to the more quiet streets, and finally entered the church. The sexton came up and admitted Daniel to the choir. Daniel sat down at the organ; the sexton pumped the bellows; Eleanore took a seat on one of the little benches near the side wall.

Daniel’s eyes became fixed; his fingers touched the keys with supernatural power; he began to improvise. There were two motifs following each other in close succession; both were in fifths; they were united into one; they ran from the low to the high registers, from Hell through the World to Heaven. A hymn crowned the improvised composition.

He stood with Eleanore for a long while in the stillness. The songs echoed from the lofty arches. It seemed to both of them that the blood of the one was flowing into the body of the other. Incidents of the past faded from their memory; they seemed to have completed a long journey; there was no voice to remind them of their return; they were completely liberated from duties and made immune from care.

IV

Eleanore was to sleep with Marian and Eva; Daniel was to have his old room. He showed it to Eleanore; they stepped to the window and looked out. They saw Eva down in the yard dancing back and forth barefooted on a wooden balustrade. She kept her equilibrium by holding out her arms. The grace of her movements was so fairy-like that Daniel and Eleanore smiled at each other in astonishment.

After dinner Daniel went out in front of the house; Marian and Eleanore sat for a while at the window; the light of the lamp shone behind them. Later they came out into the street and joined Daniel. Marian, however, was uneasy on account of the child. She said that Eva had been restless all day and might cry for her. “Stay out just as long as you like; I will leave the door open,” she said, and went back.

Daniel and Eleanore returned to the fair. It was still early in the evening, but the crowd had disappeared. They sauntered around among the booths, and stopped to listen to the harangue [244]of a mountebank or to watch peasant boys shooting at figures of various kinds and a glass ball that danced on a jet of water. There was a sea of red and green lanterns; sky-rockets were hissing into the air from the rampart; musicians were playing in the cafés, while hilarious tipplers sang or hooted as the spirit moved them.

They came to a grass plot, the sole illumination of which was the light from a circus wagon. On the steps of the wagon sat a man in tricot holding the head of a black poodle between his knees.

“Those were the last inhabitants of the earth,” said Daniel, after they had crossed the square. The noise died away, the gaudy lights disappeared.

“How far are you going?” asked Eleanore, without the remotest trace of fear in her voice.

“I am going on until I am with you,” was the quick reply.

The indistinct outline of a bridge became visible; under it the water flowed noiselessly. The path had a yellowish shimmer; there were no stars in the heavens. Suddenly the path seemed to come to an end; at the end of it were trees there that seemed to be moving closer and closer together; it became darker and darker; they stopped.

“We have told each other our whole story,” said Daniel. “In the way of words we owe each other nothing. We have had enough of talk; there has been no lack of sorrow and enough of error. We can no longer act differently, and therefore we dare not act differently any longer.”

“Be still,” whispered Eleanore, “I don’t like your wrangling; what you say is so unpeaceful and fiendish. Yesterday I dreamed that you were lying on your knees and had your folded hands uplifted. Then I loved you—very much.”

“Do you need dreams in order to love me, girl? I don’t; I need you just as you are. I will soon be thirty years old, Eleanore. A man never really wakes up until he is thirty; it is then that he conquers the world. You know what rests within me; you suspect it. You know too how I need you; you feel it. You are my soul; you are created out of my music; without you I am an empty hull, a patchwork, a violin without strings.”

“Oh, Daniel, I believe you, and yet it is not all true,” replied Eleanore. He thought he could see in the darkness her mockingly ironical smile: “Somewhere, I am almost tempted to say in God, it is not true. If we were better, if we were beings in the image of God and acting in God’s ways, we would have to desist from [245]our own ways. Then it would be wonderful to live: it would be like living above the clouds, happy, at peace, pure.”

“Does that come from your heart, Eleanore?”

“My dear, dear man! My heart, like yours, has been beclouded and bewitched. I cannot give you up. I have settled my accounts. In my soul I am entirely conscious of my guilt. I know what I am doing and assume full responsibility for my action. There is no use to struggle any longer; the water is already swirling over our heads. I simply want to say that you should not delude yourself into believing that we have risen up above other people by what we have done, that we have deserved the gratitude of fate. No, Daniel, what we are doing is precisely what all those do who fall. Let me stay with you, dearest; kiss me, kiss me to death.”

V

Philippina had promised Eleanore to look after Jordan and Gertrude on Sunday.

As she was crossing Five Points, she went into a shop, and asked for three pfennigs’ worth of court plaster. While doing some housework she had scratched herself on a nail. The clerk gave her the plaster, and asked her what was the news.

“Ah, you poor bloke, you want to know the very latest, don’t you?” she snarled, and then grinned with blatant self-complacency.

“The later the better,” said the fellow with a lustful smirk.

Philippina bent over the counter, and whispered: “They’re taking their wedding trip to-day.” She laughed in a lewd, imbecile way. The clerk stared at her with wide-opened eyes and mouth. Two hours later the news was in the mouth of every hussy in that section of the city.

Gertrude was in bed. The day woman who did the cooking gave Philippina a plate with Jordan’s dinner on it: Meat, vegetables, and a few sour plums. Philippina ate two of the plums on the way up to his room, and licked her fingers.

The whole forenoon she spent rummaging around in Eleanore’s room; she looked through the cabinets, the presses, and the pockets of Eleanore’s dresses. As it began to grow dark, Jordan suddenly entered, in hat and great coat, and looked on in speechless and enraged amazement at the girl’s inexplicable curiosity.

Philippina took the broom from the corner, and began to sweep with all her might. While sweeping she sang, out of tune, impudently, and savagely:

[246]

“No fire, no coal, so warmly glows
As secret love that no one knows.”

Jordan went away without saying anything. He had forgotten to lock his room. Hardly had Philippina noticed that he had left the key in the door, when she opened it and went in.

She spied around with cowardly, superstitious eyes. She was afraid of the old inspector, as she would have been afraid of an invincible magician. For such cases she had a number of formulas at her tongue’s end. She murmured: “Put earth in, close the lid, hold your thumbs, spit on your shoe.” She spat on her shoe.

She then began to examine the cabinet, for she believed that it contained all of Jordan’s secrets. But she could not open the lock, try as she might. She then went at the writing desk; she was angry. There she found, in plain wooden frames, the pictures of Gertrude and Eleanore. She ran out, got a large needle, came back, and stuck it in the picture of Eleanore right between the eyes. Then she took Gertrude’s picture, and after she had held it for a while, looking at it with her gloomy eyes, she noticed that it was spotted with blood. The plaster had come off her finger, and the finger had started to bleed.

“Come now, Philippina,” she said to herself, “go and see how Gertrude is making out.” Entering Gertrude’s room, she found her asleep. Creeping up to her bed on her tiptoes, she took a chair, straddled it, leaned her chin on the back, and stared fixedly at the face of the young woman, now just barely visible in the darkness of the room.

Gertrude dreamed that a black bird was hovering over her and picking at her breast with its pointed beak. She screamed and woke up.

Shortly after this Gertrude had to send for the midwife.

During the night, Gertrude gave birth to a girl; she had suffered terrible pains. Philippina had seen and heard it all. She had run back and forth, from the kitchen to the bedroom and from the bedroom to the kitchen, for hours; she was like an insane person; she kept mumbling something to herself. What she mumbled no one knew.

Gertrude had called in vain for Daniel; in vain had she waited for him the whole day.

“Where in the world can Daniel be?” cried Philippina, “where can Daniel be with his damned Eleanore?” She sat in the corner with her hands folded, her hair tangled and knotted, her face [247]distorted with the grimaces of madness. The midwife was still busy with Gertrude; the new-born child was crying pitifully.

VI

Daniel held the child in his arms, and looked at it carefully but without love. “You little worm, what do you want in this world?” he said to his daughter. He still had his hat on; so had Eleanore. Both of them were dressed just as they came from the station; they were embarrassed and excited at what had happened. Eleanore was exceedingly pale; her great eyes looked dreamy; her body seemed of almost boyish slenderness. At times she smiled; then the smile died away, as if she did not have the courage to appear so cheerful.

Inspector Jordan was also in the room, acting as he had always acted since his bankruptcy—like a guest who feels that he is a burden to the family. He said very humbly: “I have suggested to Gertrude that she call the child Agnes after my deceased wife.”

“Very well, let’s call her Agnes,” said Daniel.

Gertrude asked that the child be brought to her so that she could nurse it. Eleanore carried it over and laid it at her breast. As the hands of the sisters touched, Gertrude looked up quickly: there was an indescribable expression of thoughtfulness, knowingness, and kindliness on her face. Eleanore fell on her knees, threw her arms around Gertrude’s neck, and kissed her passionately. Gertrude reached out her left hand to Daniel; he gave her his right hand with some hesitancy. Jordan was radiant with joy: “It is so good, children, to see that you all love each other, so good,” he said with visible emotion.

“Daniel, you must move up into Father’s quarters at once,” said Gertrude. “Your piano, bed, and all your things must be taken up, and Eleanore will move into your room. I have already spoken to Father about it, and he feels that it will be a good arrangement. He will be very quiet so as not disturb you. The crying of the baby would make it impossible for you to work.”

“It is a very practical solution of the problem,” said Jordan, speaking for Daniel, and looked down at his frayed coat-sleeves, which he tried to conceal by hiding them behind his back. “I am also glad that Eleanore will be with you. A man, you know, has a habit of going to bed long before a woman quits her daily work. Is that not true, my son-in-law?” With that he clapped Daniel on the shoulder.

[248]

“During Gertrude’s confinement I will sleep here in her room,” said Eleanore, avoiding Daniel’s eyes as she said so. “She cannot stay alone, and it costs too much to keep a nurse.”

“Exactly,” said Jordan, and went to the door. But he turned around: “I should like to know,” he asked in a tone of great grief, “who has been at Gertrude’s and Eleanore’s pictures. The one is covered with spots of blood, and the other has a hole punched in it. Isn’t that very strange? I can’t understand it: I can’t imagine who could have done me this injury.” He shook his head and went out.

“Do you realise that to-morrow is the first of November?” asked Gertrude. “Have you the rent ready? Did Father make any money last month?”

“No, he didn’t,” replied Eleanore, “but I have almost enough to pay the landlord.”

It was no longer possible to depend upon Jordan. He was supported by his children, and seemed to find the arrangement neither strange nor humiliating. At times he would allude in a mysterious way to a big enterprise that was going to claim the whole of his attention and bring him a great deal of money and honour. But if you asked him about it, he would wrinkle his brow and put his finger to his lips.

“I owe the man more than the rent,” said Daniel. He kissed Gertrude on the forehead, and went out.

“Put the child in the cradle, and come over here,” said Gertrude to Eleanore, as soon as Daniel had closed the door behind him. Eleanore did as she had been told. The baby was asleep. She took it up, looked at its wrinkled face, and carried it to the cradle. Then she went over to Gertrude’s bed.

Gertrude seized her by her hands, and drew her down to her with more strength than one would have imagined her to have just then. The eyes of the two women were drawn close together. “You must make him happy, Eleanore,” she said in a hoarse voice, and with a sickly glimmer in her eyes. “If you do not, it would be better if one of us were dead.”

Despite her terror, Eleanore loosened Gertrude’s hold on her with great gentleness. “It is hard to discuss that subject, Gertrude; it is hard to live and hard to think about it all.” Eleanore breathed these words into Gertrude’s ears.

“You must make him happy; you must make him happy! Repeat it to yourself and keep it in your mind every day, every hour, [249]every minute. You must, you must, you must.” Gertrude was almost beside herself.

“I will learn how to do it,” replied Eleanore slowly and seriously. “I am ... I hardly know what I am or how I feel. But be patient with me, Gertrude, I will learn how to make him happy.” She looked into Gertrude’s face with anxious curiosity. Gertrude however pressed her hands against Eleanore’s cheeks, drew her down to her again, and kissed her with unusual fervour. “I too must learn how,” whispered Gertrude, “I must learn the whole of life from the very beginning.”

Some one knocked at the door. The midwife came in to look after her patient.

VII

At that time the superstition still prevailed that the window in the room of a woman in confinement must never be opened. The air in the room was consequently heavy and ill-smelling. Eleanore could hardly stand it during the day; during the night she could not sleep. Moreover natural daylight could not enter the room, and, as if it were not already gloomy enough, the window had been hung with green curtains which were kept half drawn.

The most unpleasant feature of all, however, was the interminable round of visits from the women: custom had decreed that they should not be turned away. The wife of the director of the theatre came in; Martha Rübsam came in, and so did the wife of Councillor Kirschner, and the wives of the butcher, baker, preacher, and physician. And of course the wife of the apothecary called. No one of them failed to pour out an abundance of gratuitous advice or go into ecstasies over the beauty of the baby. Once Daniel came in just as such an assemblage was in the sick room. He looked first at one, then at another, threw back his head, and left without saying a word.

Herr Seelenfromm and M. Rivière were likewise not frightened by the distance; they called. Eleanore met them in the hall, and got rid of them by the usual method. And one day even Herr Carovius came around to inquire how mother and child were doing. Philippina received him; and Philippina was having a hard time of it at present: she was not allowed to enter Gertrude’s room; Gertrude would have nothing to do with her; she refused to see her.

[250]

So that she might not get too far behind with her work—for it meant her daily bread—Eleanore pushed the table up to the window, and despite the poor light, kept on writing. In the evening she would sit by the lamp and write, although she was so tired that she could hardly keep her eyes open.

After three days, Gertrude had no milk for the baby; it had to be fed with a bottle. It would cry for hours without stopping. And as soon as it was quiet, its clothes had to be washed or its bath prepared, or Gertrude wanted something, or one of the pestiferous visitors came in. Eleanore had to lay her work aside; in the evening she would fall across the bed and sleep with painful soundness for an hour or two. If the baby did not wake her by its hungry howling, the bad air did. Her head ached. Yet she concealed her weakness, her longing, her oppression. Not even Daniel noticed that there was anything wrong with her.

She had very little opportunity to talk with him. And yet there was probably not another pair of eyes in the whole world that could be so eloquent and communicative with admonition, promise, request, and cordial resignation. One evening they met each other at the kitchen door: “Eleanore, I am stifling,” he whispered to her.

She laid her hands on his shoulder, and looked at him in silence.

“Come with me,” he urged with a stupid air. “Come with me! Let’s run off.”

Eleanore smiled and thought to herself: “The demands of his soul are always a few leagues in advance of the humanly possible.”

The next morning he stormed into the room. Eleanore was only half dressed. With an expression of wrath flitting across her face she reached for a towel and draped it about her shoulders. He sat down on Gertrude’s bed, and let loose a torrent of words: “I am going to set Goethe’s ‘Wanderers Sturmlied’ to music! I am planning to make it a companion piece to the ‘Harzreise’ and publish the two in a cycle. I have not slept the whole night. The main motif is glorious.” He began to hum it over in a falsetto voice: “‘Oh, mortal man, if genius does not forsake thee, neither rain nor storm can breathe upon thy heart!’ How do you like that?”

Gertrude looked at him inspired.

“I should have a good drink on that idea,” he continued; “I have rarely felt such a longing for a flask of old wine. It’s a bloody shame that I can’t afford it. But you wait till I get a [251]little money, and you will see a bouteille of Tokay on my table every day.”

“My God, just listen how he raves! He’s going to have the best there is,” said Philippina angrily, as she entered the room in her stocking feet and heard Daniel’s remarks.

Daniel told her to keep her mouth shut and leave the room at once. He paid no attention to her reply, and cried out: “Something has got to happen. If I can’t drink, I at least want to dance. Dance with me, Eleanore; don’t be afraid, come, dance with me!” He threw his arms around her, pressed her to his bosom, sang a waltz melody, and drew the struggling and embarrassed girl across the floor.

Philippina broke out in her slimy, malicious laughter, and then shrieked at the top of her voice that Frau Kirschner was outside and wanted to see the Kapellmeister’s wife. Gertrude made an imploring gesture, the full meaning of which Daniel easily grasped. The baby began to cry, Eleanore tore herself away from Daniel’s embrace, arranged her hair, and hastened over to the cradle. Philippina opened the door to let the Councillor’s wife in. Just then a violent discussion was started in the hall. One could hear the voice of Jordan and that of some strange man.

It was the furniture dealer who had come to collect the money for the cradle. He was boiling with the rage that cares not how it may be expressed: he said he had already been there four times, and each time he was put off. The truth is, Daniel was very hard up.

The Councillor’s wife took Daniel to one side, and made him an offer of a loan of two hundred marks. Daniel was silent; he bit his lips, and looked down at the floor. She scolded him: “You are always your own worst enemy. Now be reasonable, Nothafft, I will send the money over at noon. If you have any left, you may pay it back.”

Daniel went out, and gave the blustering furniture dealer his last ten-mark piece.

Frau Kirschner had brought a flask of Tokay wine with her for Gertrude. Tokay was regarded at that time as a sort of elixir of life.

“You see, so quickly are wishes fulfilled,” said Gertrude to Daniel in the evening, when he came into her room. She poured out a glass for him.

“Have you any bills to settle?” he asked, looking partly at Eleanore, partly at Gertrude, and striking his wallet, then bulging [252]with notes. “It’s Court Councillor’s money,” he said, “real Court Councillor’s money. How beautiful it looks, lousy fine, eh? And upon that stuff the salvation of my soul depends!” He threw the money on Gertrude’s bed, stuck out his tongue, and turned away in disgust.

Eleanore handed him the glass of Tokay; her eyes glistened with tears.

“No, Eleanore,” he said, “I have trifled it away. In my arrogance I imagined I could do something; I thought I could get somewhere. I sit down, brood over my ideas, and find that they are all wind-eggs. I have the feeling that I have taken a false oath. What good am I, Eleanore, what good am I, Gertrude?”

“Ah, take a drink, and perhaps your troubles will leave you,” said Eleanore, and stroked his brow with her hand.

Gertrude called out to her: “Quit that! Put that glass away!” She spoke so harshly that Eleanore sprang back, and Daniel got up.

“Leave me alone for a while,” she said. Daniel and Eleanore left the room.

Eleanore went into the living room, sat down at the table, and laid her head in her hands. “What can we do now?” she said to Daniel. The violin tone in her voice had something unusually touching about it.

Daniel set the candle he was carrying in the bay window. He bent down over the table, and took Eleanore by her small wrists. “Accept the bitter for the sake of the sweet,” he murmured. “Believe in me, believe in yourself, believe in the higher law. It is not possible that I merely imagined that there is a winged creature for me. I must have something to cling to, something indestructible, ah, even superhuman.”

“You must have something superhuman to cling to,” Eleanore repeated after him. She could not help but think that he had already made superhuman demands of the other woman, his wife, her sister, Gertrude. She raised her finger as if to warn him: it was a gesture of infinite timidity.

But Daniel scarcely saw what she had done. In his arrogant presumption and passion he could have smashed the universe to pieces, and then re-created it merely in order to mould this one creature after his own desires. He would have made her of boundless pliability, and yet active in her love for him; he would have had her spurn venerable commandments in a spirit of self-glorification, and yet cherish unequivocal confidence in him, the creature of need and defiance; and she would be cheerful withal.

[253]

“I am cold,” whispered Eleanore, peering into the dark shadows of the room.

VIII

To know that these eyes and their pure passion were so close to him; to be able to touch this cool, sincere, mutely-eloquent mouth with his lips; to be able to hold these hands in which passion resided as it does in the speechless unrest of a messenger; to be able to press this throbbing figure with all its willingness and hesitation to his bosom—it was almost too much for Daniel. It involved pain; it aroused an impatience, a thirst for more and more. His daily work was interrupted; his thoughts, plans, and arrangements were torn from their connection.

He spoke to people whom he knew as though they were total strangers; he amazed those whom he did not know by the loyal confidence he voluntarily placed in them. He forgot to put on his hat when he walked along the street; the distraction he revealed was the source of constant merriment to passersby and on-lookers. He would not know when it was noon; he would come home at three o’clock, thinking it was twelve. Once he came nearly being run over by a team of galloping horses; another time he had his umbrella taken straight from his hands without noticing it. This took place at the Ludwig Station.

“Oh, winged creature, winged creature,” he would say to himself, and smile like a somnambulist. Deep in his soul a sea of tones was surging. He listened to them with complete assurance, angry though he would become at times because of the failure of this or that. He was so absorbed in himself, so enmeshed in his own thoughts, that he scarcely saw the sky above him; houses, people, animals, and the things that are after all necessary to human existence existed only in his dreams, if at all.

Winged creature, winged creature!

IX

As soon as Gertrude could get up and go about, Eleanore accepted an invitation from Martha Rübsam to visit her aunt, Frau Seelenfromm, in Altdorf. The visit was to last two weeks. Eleanore looked upon it as a test that would determine whether she could do anything on her own account now: whether she could get along without Daniel.

[254]

But she saw that she could no longer live without him. In the lonely house she came to the conclusion that her love was great enough to enable her to bear the monstrous burden fate had been trying to impose upon her. She saw that neither flight nor concealment nor anything else could save her, could save Daniel, could give back to Gertrude what she had lost, what had been taken from her.

There were times, to be sure, when she asked herself whether it was all true and real; whether it could be possible. She walked in darkness surrounded by demons. Her being was plunged into the deepest and strangest bewilderment; confusion enveloped her; there was sorrow in the effort she made to avert the inexorable.

But in one of her sleepless nights she thought she was covering Daniel’s mind with a flame of fire; she thought she heard his voice calling out to her with a power she had never known before.

No one she had ever seen was so vivacious, so alive as he. Her slumbering fancy had awakened at the sound of his voice and the feel of his warm breath. She felt that people owed him a great deal; and since they did not seem inclined to pay their debts, it was her duty to make restitution to Daniel for their neglect.

She could not survey the ways of his art: the musician in him made neither a strange nor a special appeal to her. She grasped and felt only him himself; to her he was Daniel. She grasped and felt only the man who was born to do lofty, the loftiest, deeds and who passed by the base and evil in men in silence; who knew that he had been chosen but was obliged to renounce the privilege of ruling; who was always in full armour, ready to defend a threatened sanctuary.

Of such a man, of such a knight and warrior, she had dreamt even when a child. For although she looked at things and circumstances with the eyes of truth, her soul had always been full of secret dreams and visions. Back of her unceasing and unfading activity the genii of romanticism had been spinning their bright-coloured threads; it was they that had formed the glass case in which she had lived for so long, impervious to the touch of mortal hand, immune to the flames of love.

The morning following that night she explained to her friend that she was going home. Martha tried in vain to get her to stay: she was almost ill with longing.

Martha let her go; she had the very saddest of thoughts concerning Eleanore’s future; for the unhappy incidents of that unhappy home had reached Martha’s sensitive ears. She did not worry [255]because of moral principles; she was not that kind of a woman. She worried over Eleanore out of genuine affection: it pained her to know that she could no longer admire Eleanore.

X

In the meanwhile Daniel had told his wife that a child of his was living with his mother in Eschenbach, and that he had known nothing about it until Eleanore took him over there. He told her the child’s name and how old it was and who its mother was, and gave her a detailed description of that celebrated New Year’s Night on which he had embraced the maid. He told her how he had stood out in front of her house that night and longed for her with all his senses, and how he felt, when he looked at little Eva, as if Providence had only seemed to use the body of a strange woman, and that Eva was in reality Gertrude’s own child.

To this Gertrude replied: “I never want to see that child.”

“You will be ashamed of having made this remark once you do see the child,” replied Daniel. “You should not be envious of a creature whom God brought into the world so that the world may be more beautiful.”

“Don’t speak of God!” said Gertrude quickly and with uplifted hand. Then, after a pause, during which Daniel looked at her angrily, she added with a painful smile: “The very idea: I, jealous, envious! O no, Daniel.”

The way she pressed her hands to her bosom convinced Daniel, and quite emphatically too, that she did not know the feeling of envy or jealousy. He said nothing, but remained in her room for an unusually long while. When she was cutting bread, she let the knife fall. He sprang and picked it up for her. He had never done this before. Gertrude looked at him as he bent over. Her eyes became dim, flared up, and then became dim again.

“Don’t speak of God!” Somehow Daniel could not get these words out of his mind.

When Eleanore returned she was terrified at the expression on Daniel’s face. He seemed dazed; his eyes were inflamed as though he too had not been able to sleep; he could hardly talk. Finally he demanded that she swear to him never to go away again.

She hesitated to take an oath of this kind, but he became more and more insistent, and she took it. He threw his arms about her with passionate impetuosity; just then the door opened, and Gertrude stood on the threshold. Daniel hastened to her, and [256]wanted to take her by the hand; but she stepped back and back until she reached her bedroom.

It was evening; covers were laid for four: Jordan was to take dinner with them that evening. He came down promptly; Eleanore brought in the food; but Gertrude was nowhere to be found. Eleanore went in to her. She was sitting by the cradle, combing her hair with slow deliberation.

“Won’t you eat with us, Gertrude?” asked Eleanore.

Gertrude did not seem to hear her. In a few minutes she got up, walked over to the mirror on the wall, pressed her hair with the palms of her hands to her two cheeks, and looked in the mirror with wide-opened eyes.

“Come, Gertrude,” said Eleanore, rather timidly, “Daniel is waiting.”

“That they are in there again,” murmured Gertrude, “it seems like a sin.” She turned around, and beckoned to Eleanore.

Eleanore went over to her in perfect obedience. Gertrude threw her arms around her neck until her left temple touched Eleanore’s right one with only her hair hanging between them like a curtain. Gertrude again looked in the mirror; her eyes became rigid; she said: “Oh yes, you are more beautiful, much more beautiful, a hundred times more beautiful.”

Just then the child began to stir, and since Gertrude was still standing immovable before the mirror, Eleanore went to the cradle. Hardly had Gertrude noticed what she had done, when she rushed out and cried with terrifying rudeness: “Don’t touch that child! Don’t touch it, I say!” She then went up, snatched the child from the cradle, and went back to her bed with it, saying gently and yet threateningly: “It belongs to me, to me and to no one else.”

Since this incident, Eleanore knew that a fearful change had come over her sister. She did not know whether other people noticed it; she did not even know whether Daniel was aware of it. But she knew it, and it frightened her.

One afternoon, about sunset, Eleanore came in and found Gertrude on her knees in the hall scrubbing the floor. “You shouldn’t do that, Gertrude,” said Eleanore, “you are not strong enough for that kind of work yet.”

Gertrude made no reply; she kept on scrubbing.

“Why don’t you dress better?” continued Eleanore; “Daniel does not like to see you going about in that ugly old brown skirt. Believe me, it makes him angry.”

[257]

Gertrude straightened up on her knees, and said with disconcerting humility: “You dress up; it is not well for two to look so nice. What shall I do?” she asked, and let her head sink. “You wear your gold chain and the corals in your ears. That pleases me; that is the way it should be. But I have no gold chain; I have no corals. If I had them, I wouldn’t wear them; and if I wore them, it would not be right.”

“Ah, Gertrude, what are you talking about?” asked Eleanore.

The ringing of the church bells could be heard in the hall. Gertrude folded her hands in prayer. There was a stern solemnity in her action. In her kneeling position she looked as though she were petrified.

Eleanore went into the room with a heavy heart.

XI

Through the dividing walls Daniel and Eleanore were irresistibly drawn to each other. They accompanied each other in their thoughts; each divined the other’s wishes and feelings. If he came home in a bad humour, if she was anxious and restless, they both needed merely to sit down by each other to regain their peace.

If Daniel’s power of persuasion was great, Eleanore’s example was equally great. A dish would displease Daniel. Eleanore would not only eat it, but would praise it; and Daniel would then eat it too, and like it. Gertrude had prepared the food, and Eleanore felt it was her duty to spare her sister as much humiliation as possible. But Gertrude did not want to be treated indulgently. She would lay her knife and fork aside, and say: “Daniel is right. It is not fit to eat.” She would get up and go into the kitchen and make a porridge that would take the place of the inedible dish. That was the way she acted: she was always resigned, diligent, and quiet; she made every possible effort to do her duty. Daniel and Eleanore looked at each other embarrassed; but their embarrassment was transformed in time into mutual ecstasy: they could not keep from looking at each other.

There was nothing of the seducer in Daniel’s sexual equipment. On the other hand he was dependent to a very high degree upon his wishes and desires; and in his passionate obstinacy he not infrequently lacked consideration. Eleanore however possessed profound calmness, cheerful certainty, and a goodly measure of indulgence; and she knew exactly how to make use of these traits. The [258]claims that were made on her patience and moderation would have harassed a heart steeled in the actualities of politics and flooded with worldly experiences. She however found a safe and unerring guide in the instincts of her nature, and was never tired.

The trait in her to which he took most frequent and violent exception was what he called her plebeian caution; she seemed determined to pay due and conventional respect to appearances. He did not wish to lay claim to the hours of his love as though they were a stolen possession; he did not wish to sneak across bridges and through halls; he did not wish to whisper; he did not wish to lie in wait for a secret tryst; he rebelled at the thought of coming and going in fear and trembling.

There is not the slightest use to investigate all the secrecies between Daniel and Eleanore. It will serve no useful end to infringe with unskilled hand on the work of the evil spirit Asmodeus, who makes walls transparent and allows his devotees to look into bed chambers. It would be futile to act as the spy of Daniel and show how he left the attic room in the dead of night and crept down the stairs in felt slippers. We have no desire to hear of Eleanore’s pangs of conscience and her longings, her flights, her waiting in burning suspense; to relate how she endeavoured to avert the inevitable to-day and succumbed to-morrow would be to tell an idle tale. It is best to overlook all these things; to draw a curtain of mercy before them; for they are so human and so wholly without a trace of the miraculous.

It will be enough to touch upon a single night on which Daniel went to Eleanore’s room and said: “I have never yet seen you as a lover sees his beloved.” Eleanore was sitting on the edge of her bed, trembling. She blew out the candle. Daniel heard the rustling of her clothes. She went up to the stove and opened the front draft door. There was a red hot coal fire in the stove. She stood before him with the purple glow of the burning coals upon her body, slender, delicate, nude. Her figure, peculiarly beautiful, was filled with the most harmonious of inspiration; it was ensouled. And since the play of her limbs, as they became conscious of the light, was suddenly stiffened with shame, Eleanore bent her head over to the wall where the mask of Zingarella, which he had given her, was hanging. She took it down, and held it with both hands so that the purple glow from the stove fell also on it. As she did this she smiled in a way that cut Daniel to the very heart: something eternal came over him; he had a premonition of the end; he feared fate.

[259]

At the same time Gertrude rose up in her bed, and stared with eyes as if she were beholding, who knows whom? at the door. After she had stared for a long while, she got up, opened the door, went out into the hall without making the slightest noise, came back, went out again, came back again, and got in bed, left the door open, sat upright and gazed at the closed door across the hall behind which she knew Daniel and Eleanore were. Her hair hung down in two long braids on either side of her head. Her pale face in this frame of black hair above it and on both sides of it looked like a wax figure in an old black frame.

Of the pictures that were being formed in her mind and soul, there was not a single twitching of the muscles to indicate what they looked like.

For her the entire world lay behind that door. It seemed to her that she could no longer endure the knowledge she had of what was taking place. In her maddened imagination she saw women stealing through the halls of the house; in every corner there was a woman, and with every woman there was a man; they embraced each other, and sank their teeth into each other’s flesh. It was all as criminal as it was irrational; it was a shame and an abomination to behold. Everywhere she looked she saw reprehensible nudeness; all clothes seemed to be made of glass; she could look neither at a man nor at a woman without turning pale. She had only one refuge: the cradle of her child. She would rush to it and pray. But as soon as her prayer was ended she again felt stifled in the poisoned air about her, while the desire to acquit herself of the crime of which she felt guilty, unable though she was to define the crime or determine her part in it, robbed her of her sleep. She felt that a great jagged stone was suspended over her head, that it was becoming less and less firmly attached every day, and that its fall if not imminent was certain.

Hour after hour passed by; Daniel finally appeared in the vestibule. He was not a little terrified when he saw the burning lamp and Gertrude sitting up in bed.

He went into the bedroom, closed the door, walked up to the cradle, looked at the child, and then went over to Gertrude. She cast a glance of infinite inquiry at him. It was a look that seemed to implore him for a decision, a judgment. At the same time she put out her hands as if to ward off any approach on his part. When she saw that he was astonished, she softened the expression on her face, and said: “Give me your hand.”

[260]

She took his right hand, stroked it, and whispered: “Poor hand, poor hand.”

Daniel bit his lips: “Oh woman, what ...?” That was all.

He sat down in silence on the edge of her bed. Gertrude looked at him in the same tense, anxious way in which she had studied him a few moments earlier. He sank down beside her, and fell asleep with his head on her breast.

She kept on holding his hand. She looked into his pale, narrow face and at his angular brow, the skin of which could be seen to twitch every now and then under the loose flowing hair that hung over it. The oil in the lamp was getting low, the wick had begun to smell. She was afraid however to put it out lest she might waken Daniel. She looked on in silence as the light became dimmer and dimmer and finally went out, leaving only the red glow of the wick. This too died away in time, and it became dark.

XII

For some time Eleanore had noticed that the baker’s boy, instead of carefully putting the rolls in the sack each morning as had always been his custom, threw them through the lattice on to the ground.

The newspaper boy stopped speaking to her; the postman smiled scornfully; and even the beggar, at least she thought so, asked for his alms in a tone of impudence.

One day she was passing through Schmausen Street; a woman was leaning out of the window. Seeing Eleanore coming, she called back into the room, whereupon a young man and three half-grown girls rushed to the window, began making remarks to each other, and gaped at her with looks that made her turn deathly pale.

Another time Daniel brought her a free ticket to a concert. She went, and as soon as she reached the hall she was struck by the discourteous and indecent manner in which the bystanders looked at her. A well-dressed woman moved away from her. Some men kept walking around her, grinning at her. She found it intolerable, and went home.

Exercise in the open had often driven away the cares that chanced to be weighing upon her: she went skating. As soon as the people saw her, they began to whisper among themselves. She did not bother about them or their remarks; she cut her beautiful figures on the ice as if she were quite alone. A group of young [261]girls pointed at her with their fingers. She went up to them with pride glistening in her eyes, and they all ran away. Those who had formerly paid homage to her avoided her now. Her soul rebelled within her; meeting with so much unexpected and cowardly vulgarity enflamed her sensibilities and ennobled her self-respect.

One day in December she crossed the Wine Market, and started to pass through a narrow street that led to the Halle Gate. Standing at the entrance to the alley were a number of men engaged in conversation. She recognised Alfons Diruf among them. She thought they would step to one side and let her pass, but not one of them moved. They gaped at her in unmitigated shamelessness. She could have turned about and taken another street, but that defiance on the part of those men made her insist upon her rights to go the way she had originally decided upon. Impressed, apparently, by the flaming blue of her eyes, the scoundrels at last condescended to shift their lazy frames to one side. They formed an espalier through which she had to walk. But worse than this were the lewd looks that she knew were following her, and the laughter that greeted her ears. It was the type of laughter ordinarily heard at night when one passes a low dive, in which the scum of human society has gathered to amuse itself by the telling of salacious stories.

She often had the feeling, particularly after dark, that some one was following her. Once she looked around, and a man was behind her. He wore a havelock; he turned quickly into a gate. A few days later she had a similar experience, but this time she was frightened worse than ever, for she thought it was Herr Carovius.

One evening as she was leaving the house she saw the same figure standing by the church on the other side of the street. As she hesitated and wondered whether she should go on, another person joined the first. She thought it was Philippina. The two began to talk, but Eleanore could not make out who they were; it was snowing, and there was no street lamp nearby.

She could not tell why, but she was suddenly seized with anxiety for Daniel; for him and for no one else. She felt that unless she went back something dreadful would happen to him. She rushed up the steps to the attic room, and knocked at his door; there was not a sound. She opened the door and went in, but everything was dark. In the darkness, however, standing out against the white background from the light of the snow, she saw [262]his body. He was sitting at the piano; he had his arms on the lid, his head between his hands. Eleanore hastened up to him, and, with a tone of sweet sadness in what she said, threw her arms around his neck.

Daniel took her on his lap, pressed her head to his bosom, and laughed with open month and shining teeth but without making a sound. He often laughed that way now.

XIII

He laughed that way at the intrigues that were being forged against him by his bitterest enemy, Fräulein Varini, and which resulted in his meeting with distrust and opposition in everything he undertook at the City Theatre.

He laughed that way at the anonymous letters, filled with insulting remarks, which were being sent him by his fellow citizens, and which he read with naïve curiosity merely to see how far human nastiness and bestial hate could go.

He laughed that way when he received the letter from Baroness von Auffenberg informing him that she was forced to discontinue her lessons and recitals. She said that her constitution had been weakened, and that she was going to close her town house and spend the winter at her country place at Hersbruck. Daniel heard however that she spent a great deal of her time in town, and that she had arranged for an elaborate cycle of musicales, a thing she had never dared to do under his administration. Andreas Döderlein had been engaged as her musical adviser: now she could rave and go into ecstasies and hypnotise her impotent soul in the mephitic air of artificial aroma just as much as she pleased.

And he laughed that way at the weekly attacks upon him and his art that appeared in the Fränkischer Herold, copies of which were delivered at his front door with the regularity of the sun. The attacks consisted of sly, caustic sneers, secrets that had been ferreted out with dog-like keenness, gigantic broadsides based on hearsay evidence, and perfidious suspicions lodged against Daniel Nothafft, the artist, and Daniel Nothafft, the man.

The articles never failed to mention the Goose Man. Daniel asked to have the allusion explained. The Goose Man was elevated to the rank and dignity of an original humourist. “What is the latest concerning the Goose Man?” became a standing head-line. Or the reader’s eye would fall on the following notice: “The Goose Man is again attracting the attention of all friends of [263]music. He has had the ingenious audacity to make the opera ‘Stradella’ more enjoyable by the interpolation of a funeral march of his own make. The ever-submissive domestic birds which he carries under his arms have rewarded him for his efforts in this connection by the cackling of their abundant and affectionate gratitude.”

The birthplace of these inimitable achievements in the field of journalistic wit was the reserved table at the Crocodile. If ever in the history of the world men have laughed real honest tears it was at the writing of such news bearing on the life and conduct of the Goose Man. The editor-in-chief, Weibezahl, was the recording secretary at these intellectual Olympiads, and Herr Carovius was the protagonist. He had access to reliable sources, as newspaper men say, and every evening he surprised the round table with new delicacies for Weibezahl’s columns.

Daniel was ignorant of what was going on. But the Goose Man, the expression as well as the figure, became interwoven with his thoughts, and acquired, somehow and somewhere in the course of time, a transfigured meaning.

XIV

One day Frau Kirschner wrote to Daniel telling him that she did not wish to have anything more to do with him; she demanded in the same letter that he pay back the money she had advanced him. He could not raise it: the City Theatre had already made him a loan, he had no friends, and M. Rivière, the only person on earth who might have been able to come to his rescue, had gone back to France.

Matters took their usual course: A lawyer notified Daniel, giving him so many days grace; when these had elapsed and no payment had been made, a summons was served on him; the sheriff came in, and in default of any other object of value he pawned the piano.

Daniel’s objections were quite ineffectual: a few days more and the piano would be put up at auction.

One gloomy morning in January Philippina entered his room.

“Say, Daniel,” she began, “would you like to have some money from me?”

Daniel turned his head slowly and looked at her in amazement.

“I have lots of it,” she continued with her hoarse voice, her glassy eyes glittering underneath her bangs. “I have been saving it a pfennig at a time ever since I was a child. I can give you [264]the money you owe the Councillor’s wife. Sling it at her, the old hag! Say to me: ‘Please Philippina, give me the money,’ and you’ll find it on the table.”

“Are you crazy?” asked Daniel, “get out of here just as quickly as your feet can carry you!” He felt distinctly creepy in her presence.

Philippina, beside herself with rage, seized his hand. Before he could do a thing she bit him just below the little finger. The wound was quite deep. He groaned, shook her off, and pushed her back. She looked at him triumphantly, but her face had turned yellow.

“Listen, Daniel,” she said in a begging, beseeching tone, “don’t be so ugly! Don’t be so mean toward me! Don’t be so jealous!”

The wench’s infamous smile, her hair hanging down over her eyes, her big red hands, the snow-flakes on her short cloak, the border on her fiery red dress below her cloak, and the poison green ribbon on her hat—this ensemble of ugliness filled Daniel with the loathing he might have experienced had he stood face to face with the most detestable picture he had ever seen from the world of human beings. But as he turned his head, a feeling of sympathy came over him; he suspected that the girl was bound to him by bonds that did not reach him until after they had taken their course through the dark channels of some subterranean labyrinth. What she had done filled him with dismay; but as a revelation of character it surprised him and set him to thinking.

He went over to the washing table to put his bleeding hand in the water. Philippina took a fresh handkerchief from the cabinet, and handed it to him as a bandage. He looked at her with piercing eyes, and said: “What kind of a person are you? What sort of a devil is in you, anyway? Be careful, Jason Philip’s daughter, be careful!”

Since there was a tone of kindness in these words, the muscles of Philippina’s face moved in a mysterious way. Her features were distorted as if by a grin, and yet she was not grinning. She drew a leather purse from her cloak pocket, opened it, and took out two one-hundred-mark notes and a gold coin. They had been wrapped in paper. She unfolded the paper and the notes, laid them, together with the coin, on the table, and handed Daniel a written statement.

He read it: “I, the undersigned, Daniel Nothafft, promise to pay [265]to Philippina Schimmelweis two hundred and twenty marks at five per cent interest, for value received.”

“With that you c’n pay the sheriff and git yourself out of this mess,” said Philippina, in a most urgent tone. “You can’t give piano lessons on a rolling pin, and that music box of yours is after all the tool you make your living by. Sign that, and you will be in peace.”

“Where did you get the money?” asked Daniel. “How did you ever come by so much money? Tell me the truth.” All of a sudden he remembered Theresa’s words: “All that nice money, all that nice money!”

Philippina began to chew her finger nails. “That’s none of your business,” she said gruffly, “it ain’t been stolen. Moreover, I c’n tell you,” she said, as she felt that his distrust was taking on a threatening aspect, “mother give it to me on the sly. She didn’t want me to be without a penny if anything happened. For my father—he would like to see me strung up. She give it to me, I say, on the side, and she made me swear before the cross that I would never let any one know about it.”

This tale of horror made Daniel shake his head; he had his doubts. He felt she was lying, and yet there was a mysterious force back of her statement and in her eyes. He was undecided; he thought it over. His livelihood was at stake. Weeks, months might pass by before he could get another piano. Philippina’s readiness to help him was a riddle to him, everything she said was repulsive and banal; but after all she was willing to help in a most substantial way, and he was in such difficulties that voices of admonition simply had to be drowned out.

“It is nothing but money,” he thought contemptuously, and sat down to put his name to the note.

Philippina drew up her shoulders, and never once breathed until he had signed the note and handed it over to her in silence. Then she looked at him imploringly, and said: “Now Daniel, you must never again treat me like you would a scurvy cat.”

XV

There had been an unusual amount of talk this year about the parade on Shrove Tuesday. On the afternoon of that day the whole city was on its feet.

Daniel was on his way home; he had reached the corner of [266]Theresa Street when he ran into the crowd. He stopped out of idle curiosity. The first division of the parade came up: it consisted of three heralds in gaudy mediæval costumes, and back of them were three councillors on horseback.

Next in the procession was a condemned witch on a wheelbarrow. Her face had been hideously painted, and in her hand she swung a huge whiskey bottle. She was followed by a group of Chinese, each with a long pigtail, and they by a troupe of dancing Kameruns.

The procession moved on in the following order: a giant carrying twenty-seven quart beer mugs; a woman’s orchestra consisting exclusively of old women; a wagon from one of the peasant districts bearing the inscription, “Adorers of Taxes”; a smoking club with the Swedish match merchant; a wagon with a replica of the Spittler Gate made of beer kegs; the so-called guard against sparks; a nurse with a grown child in diapers and Hussar boots; the seven Swabians on velocipedes; a cabriolet with a gaily dressed English family; a conveyance carrying authors. There were two inscriptions on it: “The And So Forths” and “The Et Ceterists.”

At the end of the procession was a wagon with a skilful imitation of the Goose Man. It had been made out of old boards, hoops, clay, old rags, and iron. The Goose Man himself wore an open velvet doublet and short velvet trousers, from the pockets of which protruded rolls of banknotes. Instead of a cap he had a rusty pan on his head, and on his feet was a pair of worn patent leather shoes. Under each arm he carried a goose. The geese had been made of dough. Their heads were not the heads of geese but of women artificially painted and with so-called taws, or marbles, for their eyes. The face at the Goose Man’s left looked melancholy, the one at his right was cheerful.

This was the centre of attraction; it was surrounded by the largest crowds. Every time it came within sight of a fresh group of on-lookers there was a tremendous shouting and waving of flags. This was true even where it was plain that the people did not appreciate the significance of it. Pulchinellos brandished their wooden swords, Indian chieftains danced around it screaming their mighty war-whoops, a Mephistopheles turned somersaults, knights mounted on stilts saluted, and children with wax masks shrieked until it was impossible to hear one’s own voice.

Daniel had watched the performance with relative indifference. He had regarded it merely as a display of commonplace ability to amuse the people. Then came the wagon with the imitation [267]of the Goose Man. On it stood Schwalbe the sculptor, gloriously drunk. Beside him stood Kropotkin the painter in his shirt sleeves, apparently oblivious to the fact that it was cold. A fearfully fat youth—a future school officer, so far as could be determined from his looks—had hit upon the happy idea of pasting the title of the Fränkischer Herold to the Goose Man’s hat. This took the initiated by storm.

Kropotkin recognised Daniel. He called to him, threw him kisses, had one of the wooden swords given him, and went through the motion of directing an orchestra. The fat boy hurled a handful of pretzels at the spot on the sidewalk where Daniel was standing; a trombone began to bray; the Englishman first stuck his head out of his cabriolet, and then got out and hopped over to Daniel, carrying a pole draped with women’s clothes, including a feather hat and a veil. A new keg of beer was tapped on the Gambrinus wagon, while the people in the houses rushed to the windows and roared.

“You have forgotten the railing,” cried Daniel in a loud voice to the people on the Goose Man wagon.

“What did he say?” they asked, and looked at each other in astonishment. The on-lookers were filled with curious silence: many of them gazed at Daniel, bewildered.

“You forgot the railing,” he repeated, with glistening eyes, “you have forgotten the iron railing. Without his protection the poor Goose Man is to be sure your buffoon, your zany, your clown.”

He laughed quietly, and, with opened mouth and shining teeth, quickly withdrew from the innumerable gapers. Having reached a deserted alley, he began to sing with a frenzied expression on his face: “Whom thou dost not desert, oh Genius, him wilt thou raise up with wings of fire. He will wander on as if with feet of flowers across Deucalion’s seas of slime, killing Python, light-footed, famed Pythius Apollo.”

XVI

A few weeks later a real singer came to Daniel. She sang several of the songs he had written. He had thought they were completely forgotten by everybody. Her art was not merely perfect; it was wonderful.

It was a very mysterious visit the singer paid him. One afternoon during a fearful snow storm the bell rang; and when Gertrude [268]opened the door, she saw a woman wearing a heavy black veil standing before her, who said she wished to speak to Kapellmeister Nothafft. Gertrude took her up to Daniel’s room. The stranger told Daniel she had been wishing to make his acquaintance for a long time, and, now on her way to Italy, she had been detained in the city for a few days by the illness of a near friend. This, she said, she regarded as a hint from fate itself. She had come to extend him her greetings, and particularly to thank him for his songs, a copy of which a friend had been good enough to present to her at a time when she was living under the weight of a great sorrow.

She spoke with an accent that had a Northern note in it, but easily and fluently; she gave the impression of a woman who had seen a great deal of the world and had profited by her travels. Daniel asked her with whom he had the pleasure of speaking, but she smiled, and asked permission to conceal her name for the present. She said that it really did not make much difference, and that it might be more agreeable to him later to think that an unknown woman had come to him to express her appreciation than to recall that Fräulein So-and-So had been there: she hoped that her very anonymity would make a more lasting impression on his memory than could be made by a woman of whom he knew only what everybody knows.

The mingling of the jocose and the serious, of the mind and the heart, in the words of the stranger pleased Daniel. Though his replies were curt and cool, it was plain that she was affording him much pleasure: she was reminding him of the fact that his creations had not after all sunk into an echoless abyss. In course of time, the conversation turned again to the songs; she said she would like very much to sing some of them for him. Daniel was pleased. He got the score, sat down at the piano, and the enigmatic woman began to sing. At the very first note Daniel was enraptured; he had never heard such a voice: so soft, so pure, so emotional, so unlike the conventional product of the conservatory. As soon as she had finished the first song, he looked up at her in unaffected embarrassment, and murmured: “Who are you, anyhow? Who are you?”

“No investigations or cross-questioning, please,” replied the singer, and, blushing at the praise Daniel was bestowing on her by his very behaviour, she laughed and said, “The next song, please, that one by Eichendorff!”

Gertrude, who had not wished to remain longer than was necessary [269]because of the unkempt impression she knew she made, had hastened down to the kitchen. And now Eleanore came in, after having knocked at the door with all imaginable timidity. She had heard the strange voice, had rushed out into the hall, and, unable to restrain her curiosity any longer, had come in to see the singer.

Daniel nodded to her with radiant eyes, the stranger greeted her cordially though calmly, and then began to sing the next song; after this she took up the third, and so on until she had sung the complete cycle of six. Old Jordan was standing behind the door; he had his hands pressed to his face and was listening; he was much moved.

“Well, I must be going,” said the strange woman, after she had finished the last song. She shook hands with Daniel, and said: “It has been a beautiful hour.”

“It has been one of the most beautiful hours I have ever experienced,” said Daniel.

“Farewell!”

“Farewell!”

The strange woman went away, leaving behind her not a trace of anything other than the memory of a joy that grew more fabulous as the storm-tossed years rolled by. Daniel never saw her again, and never heard from her again.

XVII

While the woman was singing, Gertrude had been standing down in the hall listening. She knew every note of every song; every melody in the accompaniment seemed to her like an old, familiar picture. She was also aware that an artist by the grace of God had been in the house.

But how strange it was that she should find nothing unusual in the incident. She felt that a living stream in her bosom had dried up, leaving nothing but sand and stones in its bed. This inability to feel, this being dead to all sensations, took the form of excruciating pangs of conscience.

“My God, my God, what has happened to me?” she sighed, and wrung her hands.

That evening she went to the Church of Our Lady, and prayed for a long while. Her prayer did not appease her, however; she came back home more disquieted than ever.

The door of the living room was open: Daniel and Eleanore [270]were sitting by the lamp, reading together from a book. The baby began to move; Eleanore had left the door open so that she might be able to hear the child when it woke up. Gertrude took the child in her arms, quieted it, and returned to the door leading into the living room. Daniel and Eleanore had turned their backs to the door, and were so absorbed in their reading that they were not aware of Gertrude’s presence.

A light suddenly came into Gertrude’s heart: she became conscious of her guilt—the guilt she had been trying in vain to fathom now for so many cruel weeks.

She did not have enough of the power of love; therein lay her guilt. She had assumed an obligation that was quite beyond her power to fulfil: she had entered into marriage without having the requisite strength of heart.

Marriage had seemed to her like the Holy of Holies. Her union with the man she loved seemed to her to be of equal significance with the union with God. But when she saw that this bond had been broken, the world was plunged into an abyss immeasurably remote from God. And it was not her husband who seemed to her to be guilty of infidelity; nor did she look upon her sister as being the guilty one; it was she herself who had been unfaithful and guilty in their eyes. She had not stood the test; she had been tried and found wanting; her strength had not been equal to her presumptions; God had rejected her. This conviction became irrevocably rooted in her heart.

In her union with Daniel music had become something divine; and she saw, now this union had been broken, something in music that was perilous, something that was to be avoided: she understood why she was so unemotional, why her feelings had dried up and vanished.

But she wanted to make one more effort to see whether she was entirely right in the analysis of her soul. One morning she went to Daniel, and asked him to play a certain passage from the “Harzreise.” She said she would like to hear the close of the slow middle movement which had always made such an appeal to her. Her request was made in such an urgent, anxious tone that Daniel granted it, though he did not feel like playing. As Gertrude listened, she became paler and paler: her diagnosis was being corroborated with fearful exactness. What had once been a source of ecstasy was now the cause of intense torture. The tones and harmonies seemed to be eating into her very soul; the pain she felt was so overwhelming, that it was only with the greatest [271]exertion that she mustered up sufficient self-control to leave the room unaided. Daniel was dismayed.

On her return to the kitchen, Gertrude heard a most peculiar noise in her bedroom. She went in only to see that little Agnes had crept into the corner of the room where the harp stood, and was striking the strings with a copper spoon, highly pleased with her actions. Gertrude was seized with a vague, nameless terror. She took the harp into the kitchen, removed the strings from the frame, rolled them up, put them in a drawer, and carried the stringless frame up to the attic.

“What can I do?” she whispered to herself, and looked around in the attic with an expression of complete helplessness. She longed for peace, and it seemed peaceful up where she was. She stayed a while, leaning up against one of the beams, her eyes closed.

“What can I do?” That was the question she put to herself day and night. “I can no longer be of any help to my husband; to stand in his way merely because of the child is not right.” Such was the trend of her argument. She saw how he was suffering, how Eleanore was suffering, how each was suffering on account of the other, and how both were suffering because of the despicable vulgarity of the human race. She thought to herself that if she were not living, everything would be right. She imagined, indeed she was certain, that all the truth he had given her had had the sole purpose of whitewashing a lie, by which she was to be made to believe that her existence was a necessity to him. She was convinced that the weight of this lie was crushing the very life out of him. She wished to free him from it and its consequences. But how she was to do this she did not know. She knew that if Daniel and Eleanore could belong to each other in a legal, legitimate way, they would be vindicated in the eyes of God and man. But how this was to be brought about she did not know.

She sought and sought for a way out. Her ideas were vague but persistent. She felt that she was running around in a circle, unable to do more than stare at the centre of the circle. Every morning at five o’clock she would get up and go to church. She prayed with a devotion and passion that physically exhausted her heart.

One morning she knelt before the altar in unusually heart-rending despair. She thought she heard a small voice crying out to her and telling her to take her life.

[272]

She swooned; people rushed up to her, and wet her forehead with cold water. This enabled her to get up and go home. A peculiarly sorrowful and dreamy expression lay on her face.

She wanted to do some knitting, for she recalled that when she was a girl she was always able to dispel care and grief by knitting. But every stitch she made turned into the cry: “You must take your life.”

She knelt down by the cradle of little Agnes, but the child said to her only too distinctly: “Mother, you must take your life.”

Eleanore came in. On her brow was the light of enjoyed happiness; her whole body was happiness; her lips trembled and twitched with happiness. But her eyes said. “Sister, you must take your life.”

Philippina stood by the kitchen stove, and whispered to the coals: “Gertrude, you must take your life.” Her father came in, got his dinner, expressed his thanks for it, and went out murmuring, “Daughter, you must take your life; believe me, it will be for the best.”

If she passed by the well, something drew her to the edge; voices called to her from the depths. From every beaker she put to her lips to drink shone forth her image as if from beyond the tomb. On Sunday she climbed up the Vestner Tower, and let her eyes roam over the plains below as if in the grief of departure. She leaned forward out of the little window with a feeling of assuaging horror. The keeper, seeing what she was doing, rushed up, seized her arms, and made her get back.

If the cock crew, it was the crow of death; if the clock ticked, it was the tick of death; if the wind blew, it was a breath from beyond the grave. “You must take your life”—with this thought the air, the earth, the house, the church, the morning, the evening, and her dreams were full.

In April Eleanore was taken down with fever. Gertrude watched by her bedside night and day; she sacrificed herself. Daniel, worried about Eleanore, went around in a dazed condition. When he came to her bed he never noticed Gertrude. After Eleanore had begun to recover, Gertrude lay down; for she was very tired. But she could not sleep; she got up again.

She went into the kitchen in her bare feet, though she did not know why she went. It was the consuming restlessness of her heart that drove her from her bed. Her legs were heavy with [273]exhaustion, but she did not like to stay in any one place for any length of time. Later Daniel came back from the city, and brought her a silver buckle which he fastened to her bracelet. Then he pressed his lips to her forehead, and said: “I thank you for having been so good to Eleanore.”

Gertrude stood as if rooted to the floor. Something seemed to cry incessantly within her; she felt that a mortally wounded beast was in her bosom wallowing in its blood. Long after Daniel had gone to his room she could still be seen standing in the middle of the floor. Wrapped in gloomy meditation, she removed the buckle from her bracelet: she thought she saw an ugly mark where the metal had touched her skin. She went into her room, opened the cabinet, and hid the buckle under a pile of linen.

She had only one wish: she wanted to sleep. But as soon as she would close her eyes her heart would begin to beat with doubled, trebled rapidity. She had to get up and walk back and forth in the room; she was struggling for breath.

XVIII

A few days later she went out during a pouring rain storm, and wandered about aimlessly through the streets. Every minute she feared—and hoped—she would fall over and become unconscious of herself and the world about her. She passed by two churches, the doors of which were locked. It was growing dark; she reached the apothecary shop of Herr Pflaum, and looked in through the glass door. Herr Seelenfromm was standing at the counter, mixing some medicine in a mortar. She went in and asked him whether he could not give her a narcotic. He said he could, and asked her what it should be. “One which makes you sleep for a long, long while,” she said, and smiled at him so as to make him inclined to fulfil her request. It was the first smile that had adorned her grief-stricken face for many a day. Herr Seelenfromm was just about to suggest a remedy to her. He sat down in a vain position so that he might avail himself of the opportunity to flirt with her a little. The apothecary, however, came up just then, and when he heard what Gertrude wanted, he cast a penetrating glance at her and said: “You had better go to the doctor, my good woman, and have him make you out a prescription. I have had some rather disagreeable experiences with cases of this kind.”

[274]

When Gertrude had finally dragged herself home, she found Philippina sitting by the cradle of little Agnes, rocking the child back and forth and humming a lullaby. “Where is Eleanore?” asked Gertrude.

“Where do you think she is?” said Philippina contemptuously: “She is upstairs with your husband.”

Gertrude heard Daniel playing the piano. She raised her head to hear what he was playing.

“She told me I was to go with her to Glaishammer to get a washwoman for you,” continued Philippina.

“Ah, what do we want with a washwoman?” said Gertrude; “we cannot afford one. It costs a great deal of money, and every cent of money spent means a drop of blood from Daniel’s veins. Don’t go to Glaishammer! I would rather do the washing myself!”

She knew, however, at that very moment that she had done her last washing. There was something so mournful about the light of the lamp. Agnes’s little face looked so pale as it peeped out from under the covers, Philippina cowered so witlessly at the floor. But all this was only for the moment; all this she could take with her up into a better world.

She bent down over the child, and kissed it, and kissed it with hot, burning lips. A lurk of unsoftened evil crept into Philippina’s face. “Listen, Gertrude, listen: you are all Greek to me,” said Philippina, “I don’t understand you.”

Gertrude went over to Eleanore’s room, where she stood for a while in the dark, trembling and thinking. At times she was startled: she heard some one walking about, and she thought the door would open. She could scarcely endure her impatience. Suddenly she remembered the attic and how quiet it was up there; there no one could disturb her. She decided to go up. On her way she went into the kitchen, and took a thick cord from a sugar-loaf.

As she passed by Daniel’s room, she noticed that the door was half open. He was still playing. Two candles were standing on the piano; Eleanore was leaning up against the side of the piano. She had on a pale blue dress that fell down over her beautiful body in peaceful folds.

Gertrude looked at the picture with wide-open eyes. There was an inimitable urging, a reaching aloft, and a painful sinking-back in the piece he was playing and in the way he was playing it. Gertrude went on up without making the slightest bit of noise. It was dark, but she found her way by feeling along with her hands.

[275]

XIX

After a half-hour had gone by, Philippina began to wonder where Gertrude was. She looked in the living room, then in Eleanore’s room, and then hastened up the steps and peeped through the open door into Daniel’s room. Daniel had stopped playing and was talking with Eleanore. Philippina turned back. On the stairs she met Jordan just then coming in from his evening walk. She lighted a candle, and looked in the kitchen. Gertrude was nowhere to be found.

“It is raining; there is her raincoat, and here is her umbrella, so she can’t have gone out,” thought Philippina to herself. She sat down on the kitchen table, and stared before her.

She was filled with an ugly, bitter suspicion; she scented a tragedy. In the course of another half-hour, she got up, took the lighted candle, and started out on a second search. Something drove her all about the house: she went out into the hall, into the various rooms, and then back to the kitchen.

All of a sudden she thought of the attic. It was the expression on Gertrude’s face the last time she kissed Agnes that made her think of it. Was not the attic of any house, and particularly the one in this house, the room that had the greatest attraction for her, and that her light-fearing fancy invariably chose as the most desirable and befitting place for her hidden actions?

She went up quickly and without making the least noise. Holding the lighted candle out before her, she stared at a rafter from which hung a human figure dressed in woman’s clothes. She wheeled about, uttering a stifled gurgle. A sort of drunkenness came over her; she was seized with a terrible desire to dance. She raised one leg, and sank her teeth deep into the nails of her right hand. In her convulsions she had the feeling that some one was crying out to her in a strong voice: “Set it on fire! Set it on fire!”

Near the chimney wall was a pile of letters and old newspapers. She fell on her knees, and exclaimed: “Blaze! Blaze!” And then, half with horror and half with rejoicing, she uttered a series of irrational, incoherent sounds that were nothing more than “Hu-hu, oi-oi, hu-hu, oi-oi!”

The fire from the papers flared up at once, and she ran down the steps with a roar and a bellow that are fearful to imagine, nerve-racking to hear.

In a few minutes the house was a bedlam. Daniel ran up the [276]steps, Eleanore close behind him. The women in the lower apartments came running up, screaming for water. Daniel and Eleanore turned back, and dragged a big pail full of water up the stairs. The fire alarm was turned in, the men made their way into the building, and with the help of many hands the flames were in time extinguished.

Jordan was the first to see the lifeless Gertrude. Standing in smoke and ashes, he sobbed and moaned, and finally fell to the floor as if struck on the head with an axe. The men carried Gertrude’s body out; her clothes were still smoking.

Philippina had vanished.

[277]ELEANORE

I

It was all over.

The visit of the doctor was over; and so was that of the coroner. The investigations of the various boards, including that of the fire department, the cross-examination, the taking of evidence, the coming to a decision—all this was over.

The cause of the fire remained unexplained; a guilty party could not be found. Philippina Schimmelweis had sworn that the fire had already started when she reached the attic. It was therefore assumed that the suicide had knocked over a lighted candle in her last moments.

The crowd of acquaintances and close friends had disappeared; this was over too. Hardened souls expressed their conventional sympathy to Kapellmeister Nothafft. That a man who had carried his head so high had suddenly been obliged to lower it in humility awakened a feeling of satisfaction. The punished evil-doer again gained public favour. Women from the better circles of society expatiated at length on the question whether a relation which in all justice would have to be designated as a criminal one while the poor woman was living could be transformed into a legal one after the lapse of a certain amount of time. With pimplike generosity and match-making indulgence they decided that it could.

The funeral was also over. Gertrude was buried in St. John’s Cemetery on a stormy day.

The preacher had preached a sermon, the mourners had stood with their hands stuffed in their coat pockets and their furs, for it was cold. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, Jordan cried out: “Farewell, Gertrude! Until we meet again, my child!”

There was one man who crowded right up to the edge of the grave: it was Herr Carovius. He looked over his nose glasses at Jordan and Daniel and Eleanore. It seemed to him that the latter, with her pale face and her black dress, was more beautiful than the most beautiful Madonna any Italian or Spaniard had ever immortalised on imperishable canvas.

[278]

He turned his frightened face to one side, and came very nearly falling over the heaped-up earth by the grave.

With regard to Daniel’s conduct, Pflaum, the apothecary, had this to say: “I should have expected more grief and sorrow from him, and not so much sullenness.”

“A hard-hearted man, an exceedingly hard-hearted man,” said Herr Seelenfromm in his grief.

Daniel was severely criticised for his discourteous treatment of the people from the City Theatre, every one of whom had come to the funeral. When several of them shook hands with him, he merely nodded, and blinked his eyes behind the round glasses which he had been wearing for some time.

Judge Kleinlein said: “He should be very grateful for the Christian burial, for despite the evidence that was turned in, it was not satisfactorily proved that the woman was in her right mind.”

Eleanore looked into the open grave. She thought: “Guilt is being heaped upon guilt, deep, serious guilt.”

All this was over now. Daniel and Eleanore and Jordan had come back to the house.

II

They felt lonely and deserted. Jordan shut himself up in his room. It was rare now that he took his accustomed evening walks; his coat-sleeves and the ends of his trouser legs had become more and more frayed. He pined away; his hair became snow white, his walk unsteady, his eye dim. But he was never ill, and he never complained of his fate. He never said anything at the table; he was a quiet man.

Eleanore moved back up with her father, and Daniel took his old room next to the dining room. There was all of a sudden so much space; he was surprised that the going of a single person could make such a vast difference.

Eleanore spent the whole day with little Agnes until Philippina came and relieved her. She also did her work close to Agnes.

When she had finished her writing, she had to look after the house. She could not cook, and had no desire to learn how, so she had a woman come in three times a week who prepared the midday meals. Twice a week she would prepare meals for two days, and once a week she would get them ready for three days. She was a modest woman who worked for very little money. The [279]food she cooked merely needed to be heated over, and in the evening they always had sausage and sandwiches anyhow.

It was a practical arrangement, but no one praised Eleanore for it.

At first she spent her nights in Gertrude’s room with the child; she could not stand this, however, longer than three weeks. Either she could not sleep, or she had such terrible dreams.

Then she took to carrying the child up to her room with her and making a little bed for it on the sofa. But the child did not sleep so well there; Eleanore noticed that, as a result of all the excitement and hard work, she was losing strength.

Often in the night when she would take the child to quiet it—and become so tired and uneasy—she would make up her mind to have a talk with Daniel. But the next morning she would find it impossible to bring up the subject. She felt that the voice of Gertrude was admonishing her from beyond the grave and telling her to be patient.

She felt, too, that the time was drawing near when she would succumb to over-exertion; it made her anxious. Just then Philippina came in to help.

III

When Jason Philip heard that Philippina was going to Jordan’s daughters every day, he told her most emphatically and repeatedly that she had to quit it. Philippina paid not the slightest attention to him and did as she pleased.

“I’ll kill you,” cried Jason Philip at the girl.

Philippina shrugged her shoulders and laughed impudently.

Jason Philip saw that a grown person was standing before him; he was afraid of the evil look of his daughter.

It was long before he could make out what was taking her to his enemies. Then he learned that wherever she chanced to be, at home, or with acquaintances, or with strangers, she was spreading evil reports concerning Daniel and his family. This tended to make him a bit more indulgent: he too wanted to feast his ears on scandal from that quarter. At times he would enter into a conversation with Philippina, and when she told him the latest news he was filled with fiendish delight. “The day will come when I will get back at that music-maker, you see if I don’t,” he said.

Theresa was still confined to her bed. During his leisure hours Willibald had to read to her, either from the newspapers or from [280]trashy novels. When she was alone she lay perfectly quiet and stared at the ceiling.

The time finally came when Willibald left school. He went to Fürth, where he was employed as an apprentice by a manufacturer. There was no doubt in any one’s mind but that he would become one of those loyal, temperate, industrious people who are the pride of their parents, and who climb the social ladder at the rate of an annual increase in salary of thirty marks.

The one-eyed Markus entered the paternal bookshop, where he soon familiarised himself with the novels of the world from Dumas and Luise Mühlbach to Ohnet and Zola, and with the popular sciences from Darwin to Mantegazza. His brain was a book catalogue, and his mouth an oracle of the tastes displayed at the last fair. But in reality he not only did not like the books, he regarded all this printed matter as a jolly fine deception practised on people who did not know what to do with their money. Zwanziger, the clerk, had married the widow of a cheese merchant, and was running a shop of his own on the Regensburg Chaussee.

“A rotten business,” said Jason Philip at the end of each month. “The trouble with me,” he invariably added, “is that I have been too much of an idealist. If I had worked as hard for myself as I have for other people, I would be a rich man to-day.”

He went to the café and discussed politics. He had developed into a perpetual grumbler; he was pleased with nothing, neither the government nor the opposition. To hear him talk you would have thought that the opposing parties had been forced to narrow their platforms down to the differences between the views of Prince Bismarck and Jason Philip Schimmelweis. When Kaiser Wilhelm I died, Jason Philip acted as though his appointment to the chancellorship was imminent. And when in that same memorable year Kaiser Friedrich succumbed to his sufferings, Jason Philip resembled the pilot on whose isolated fearlessness the rescue of the storm-tossed ship of state depends.

The born hero always finds a sphere of activity, a forum from which to express his views. If public life has rejected him, he goes to the café, where he is sure to find a congenial element.

One day Theresa got up from the bed where she had spent fifteen unbroken months, and seemed all of a sudden completely recovered. The physician said it was the strangest case that had ever come under his observation. But Jason Philip said: “It is the triumph of a good constitution.” With that he went to the café, drank beer, made fiery political speeches, and played skat.

[281]

But Theresa left her bed not as a woman forty-six years old—that was her age—but as a woman of seventy. She had only a few sparsely distributed grey hairs left on her square head, her face was full of wrinkles, her eye was hard and cold. From that time on, however, she did not seem to age. She did not quarrel any more, attended to her affairs in a straightforward, self-assured way, and observed her increasing impoverishment with unexpected calm.

She lived on herring, potatoes, and coffee; it was the same diet on which Philippina and Markus lived, with the one exception that Markus, as the child nearest her heart, was allowed a piece of sugar for his coffee. Jason Philip was also put on a diet: he never dared open his mouth about it, either.

Philippina stood it for a while in silence; finally she said to her mother: “I can’t stand this chicory brew forever.”

“Then you’ll have to lap up water, you will,” replied Theresa.

“No, I won’t,” said Philippina. “I am going to hire out.”

“Well, hire out. Who cares? It’ll be one mouth less to feed.” “Your daughter is going to hire out,” said Theresa to her husband, when he came home that evening.

Jason Philip had been playing cards that day, and had lost. He was in a terrible humour: “She can go plumb to the Devil so far as I am concerned.” That was his comment.

The next morning Philippina sneaked up to the attic, and drew out her cash from the hole in the chimney: it amounted to nine hundred and forty marks, mostly in gold, which she had exchanged in the course of years for small coins. Through the opening in the wall the June sun fell upon her face, which, never young and bearing the stamp of extended crime, looked like that of a witch.

She put the money in a woollen stocking, rolled it up in a knot, stuffed it down her corset between her breasts, made the sign of the cross, and repeated one of her drivelling formulas. Her clothes, ribbons, and other possessions she had already packed in a basket. This she carried down the stairs, and, without saying good-bye to a soul, left the house.

Her brother Markus was standing with sprawled legs in the sun before the store, whistling. He caught sight of her with his one eye, smiled contemptuously at her, and cried: “Happy journey!”

Philippina turned to him, and said: “You branded lout! You’re going to have a lousy time of it, mark what I tell you!”

[282]

In this frame of mind and body she came to Daniel, and said to him: “I want to work for you. You don’t need to pay nothing if you ain’t got it.”

Daniel had been noticing for some time that Eleanore could not stand the exertion required of her by the extra work.

“Will you mind the baby and sleep with it?” Daniel asked. Philippina nodded and looked down.

“If you will take care of the child and act right toward it and me, I shall be awfully grateful to you,” he said, breathing more easily.

Thereupon Philippina threw her hands to her face, and shuddered from head to foot. She was not exactly crying; there was something much worse, much more despairing, in what she was doing than in mere crying. She seemed to be convulsed by some demoniac power; a ghastly dream seemed to have seized her in a moment of higher consciousness. She turned around and trotted into the room where the child was playing with a wooden horse.

She sat down on a foot-stool, and stared at the restless little creature.

Daniel stopped, stood perfectly still, and looked at her in a mood of solicitous reflection.

IV

During a rehearsal of “Traviata,” Daniel flew into a rage at Fräulein Varini: “Listen, pay attention to your intonation, and keep in time. It’s enough to make a man lose his mind! What are you squeaking up at the gallery for? You’re supposed to be singing a song, and not whining for a little bit of cheap applause.”

The lady stepped out to the foot-lights with heaving bosom. Her offended dignity created something like the spread tail of a peacock about her hips: “How dare you?” she exclaimed: “I give you your choice: You can apologise or leave this place. Whatever you do, you are going to become acquainted with the power I have.”

Daniel folded his arms, let his eyes roam over the members of the orchestra, and said: “Good-bye, gentlemen. Since it is the director’s place to choose between me and this lady, there is no doubt whatever but that my term of usefulness in this position is up. And moreover, in an institution where meat is more valuable than music, I feel that I am quite superfluous.”

The other singers had come running out from the wings, and [283]were standing crowded together on the stage looking down at the orchestra. When Daniel laid down his baton and walked away, every member of the orchestra rose as one man to his feet. It was a voluntary and almost overwhelming expression of speechless admiration. Though they had never loved this man, though they had regarded him as an evil, alien kill-joy, who interfered with their easy-going habits as musicians in that town, they nevertheless respected his energy, admired the nobility of his intentions, and at least had a vague idea of his genius.

Fräulein Varini went into hysterics. The director was called in. He promised Fräulein Varini immediate redress, and wrote a letter to Daniel requesting that he offer an apology.

Daniel replied in a brief note that he had no thought of changing his plans as announced when he left the building. He remarked that it was quite impossible for him to get along with Fräulein Varini, that either he or she would have to quit, and that since she intended to remain he must consider his resignation as submitted and accepted.

That evening, as he was sitting at the table with Eleanore, he told her, after a long silence and in very few words, what had happened. Her response to him was a look of astonishment; that was all.

“Oh, it was the only thing I could do,” said Daniel, without looking up from his plate; “I was so heartily sick of the whole business.”

“What are you going to live on, you and your child?” asked Eleanore.

His eye became even darker and harsher: “You know, God who makes the lilies grow in the fields ... I can’t quote that old proverb exactly, my familiarity with the Bible is nothing to boast of.”

That was all they said. The window was open; there was a mysterious pulsing in the earth; the warm air had a disagreeable taste, somewhat like that of sweet oil.

When the clock in the tower struck ten, Eleanore got up and said good-night.

“Good-night!” replied Daniel, with bowed head.

V

That is the way it was now every evening between the two; for during the day they scarcely saw each other.

[284]

Daniel would sit perfectly still for hours at a time and brood.

He could not forget. He could not forget the burning, smoking border of the dress; nor the shoes that had some street mud on them; nor the face with the pinched upper lip, the dishevelled hair, the nervously knitted brow.

Under the linen in the clothes press he had found the silver buckle he had given her. “Why did she hide it there?” he asked himself. The condition of her soul when she opened the press and put the buckle in it became vivid, real; it became blended with his own soul, a part of his own being.

Then he discovered the harp without the strings. He took it to his room; and when he looked at it, he had the feeling that he was looking at a face without flesh.

“Am I too melancholy, too heavy for you?” This was the question that came to him from the irrevocable past. And that other statement: “I will be your mother made young again.” And that other one, too: “I, too, am a living creature.”

He recalled some old letters she had written him and which he had carefully preserved. He read them over with the care and caution he would have exercised in studying an agreement, the disregard or fulfilment of which was a matter of life and death. And there were bits of old embroidery from her girlhood which he acquired in order to lock them up and keep them as if they were sacred relics.

She stood out in his mind and his soul more vividly with each passing hour. If he remembered how she sat and listened when he played or discussed his works, he felt something clutching at his throat. He recalled how she crept up to him once and pressed her forehead against his lips: this picture was enshrouded in the awe of an unfathomable mystery.

It was not a sense of guilt that bound him to his deceased wife. Nor was it contrition or self-reproach or the longing that finds expression in the realisation of accumulated neglect. His fancy warded off all thought of death; in its creative defiance it invested the dead woman with a reality she never possessed while making her pilgrimage in bodily form over this earth.

It was not until now that she really took on form and shape for Daniel. And this is the marvellous and the criminal feature of the musician. Things and people are not his while they are his. He lives with shadows; it is only what he has lost that is his in living form. Dissociated from the moment, he reaches out for the moment that is gone; he longs for yesterday and storms [285]to-morrow with unassimilative impatience. What he has in his hands is withered; what lies behind him is in flower. His thinking is a winter between two springs: the true one that is gone, and the one that is to come of which he dreams, but when it arrives he fails to take it to himself. He does not see; he has seen. He does not love; he has loved. He is not happy; he was happy. Dead, lifeless eyes open in the grave; and the living eyes that look into the grave, see all things, understand all things, and glorify all things, feel as if they are being deceived by death and its duration throughout eternity.

Gertrude was transformed into a melody; everything she had done or said was a melody. Her silence was awakened, her mute hours were made eloquent. Once he had seen her and Eleanore, the one in a brown dress, the other in a blue, minor and major, the two poles of his universe. Now the major arose like the night, spread out over the lonely earth, and enveloped all things in mourning. Grief fed on pictures that had once been daily, commonplace occurrences, but which were illumined at present by the brightness of visions.

He saw her as she lay in bed with the two braids of hair on either side of her face, her face itself looking like a wax figure in an old black frame. He could see her as she carried a dish into the room, threaded a needle, put a glass to her lips to drink, or laced up her shoe. He could see the expression in her eye when she cautioned, besought, was amazed, or smiled. How incomparably star-like this eye had all of a sudden become! It was always lifted up, always bright with inner meaning, always fixed on him. In the vision of this eye he found one evening along toward sunset the motif of a sonata in B minor. A gesture he remembered—it was the time Eleanore stood before the mirror with the myrtle wreath on her head—gave the impulse to the stirring presto in the first movement of a quartette. The twenty-second Psalm, beginning “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” he sketched on awakening from a dream in which Gertrude had appeared before him in perfect repose, as pale as death, her chin resting on her hand.

But it could not be said that he worked. The music he wrote under these conditions simply gushed forth, so to speak, during fits of fever. When the mood came over him, he would scribble the notes on whatever lay nearest him; his haste seemed to betray a sense of guilt. He stole from himself; tones appealed to him as so many crimes. When the gripping melody of the twenty-second [286]Psalm arose in his mind, he trembled from head to foot, and left the house as if lashed by Furies, though it was in the dead of night. The recurring bass figure of the presto sounded to him as though it were a gruesome, awed voice stammering out the fatal words: “Man, hold your breath, Man, hold your breath!” And he did hold his breath, full of unresting discomfort, while his inspiration hacked its way through the ice-locked region into which a passionate spell that was becoming more and more a part of his nature had driven it.

He saw humanity forsaking him; he watched the waves of isolation widening and deepening around him. Since he felt that time did not challenge him to effort of any kind, he took to despising time. It came to the point where he regarded his creations as something that never were intended for the world; he never spoke about them or cherished the remotest desire that men hear of them. The more completely he kept them in secret hiding, the more real they appeared to him. The thought that a man could write a piece of music and sell it for money appealed to him as on a par with the thought of disposing for so much cash of his mother or his sweetheart, of his child or one of his own limbs.

He came on this account to cherish a feeling of superb disgust for shrewd dealers who were carried along on the wings of fashion. He took a dislike to anything that was famous; for fame smelled of and tasted to him like money. He shuddered at the mere thought of the chaos that arises from opinions and judgments; the disputes as to the merits of different schools and tendencies made him ill; he could not stand the perambulating virtuosos of all zones and nations, the feathers they manage to make fly, the noise they evoke, the truths they proclaim, the lies they wade about in and make a splash. He stood aghast at the mention of a concert hall or a theatre; he flew into a reasoned rage when he heard a neighbour playing a piano; he despised the false devotion of the masses, and scorned their impotent, imbecile transports.

All their music smelled of and tasted to him like money.

He had bought the biographies of the great masters. From them he familiarised himself with their distress and poverty; he read of the petty attitudes and fatuous mediocrity that stood deaf and dumb in the presence of immortal genius. But one day he chanced to read that Mozart’s body had been buried in a pauper’s grave. He hurled the book from him with an oath that he would never again touch a work of that sort. The mordant smoke of misanthropy blew into the fire of idolisation; he did not wish to [287]see any one; he left the city, and found peace only after he had reached a lonely, unfrequented place in the forest, where he felt he was out of the reach of human feet and safe from the eyes of men.

At night he would walk rapidly through the streets; his head was always bowed. If he became tired, he betook himself to some unknown café where he was sure he would not meet any of his acquaintances. If some one whom he knew met him on the street, he did not speak; if any one spoke to him, he was blatant and bizarre in his replies, and hastened off as rapidly as he could, with some caustic bit of intended wit on his loosened tongue.

To enter the room where Philippina and the child were required much effort; at first he was able to do it only with pronounced aversion. Later he came somehow to be touched by the form and actions of the child: he would come in a few times each day for a minute or two only, take it up in his arms, have it poke its tiny hands into his face or even jerk at his nose glasses; he listened with undivided interest to its baby talk. Philippina would stand in the corner in the meanwhile, with her eyes on the floor and her mouth closed. He became painfully aware of his obligations to her because of her inexplicable fidelity to him, and knew that he would never be able to reward her for her unique and faithful assistance. He was grieved at the same time to see the child so motherless, so utterly without the attention that ennobles. The child’s bright eyes, its outstretched arms hurt him: he feared the feelings slumbering even then in its breast, and was driven away by the thought of what might happen in the future.

One morning in August he arose with the sun, went to the kitchen and got his own breakfast, took his walking stick, and left the house. He wanted to go to Eschenbach on foot.

He walked the entire day, making only very short stops for rest. At noon the heat became intense; he asked a peasant, who chanced to drive up in his hay wagon, if he might ride a little. He had no definite end in view, no plan. Something drew him on; what it was he did not know.

When he finally reached the little town it was late at night; the moon was shining. There was not a soul on the street. The windows of his mother’s house were all dark. He climbed up the steps, and sat down as close to the front door as was physically possible. He imagined he could hear his mother and the child she had in her care breathing.

It seemed so strange to him that his mother knew nothing of [288]his presence. If she had known he was there, she would have unlocked the door and looked at him in astonishment. And if he had not felt like talking, he would have been obliged to lay his head in her lap and weep. Nothing else was possible; he could not speak. And yet the fear lest he talk, lest he be forced to tell everything, took such firm hold on him that he decided to start back home without letting his mother know that he had been there and without having seen either her or the child. The peculiar restlessness that had driven him away from his home and impelled him to go on this unusual journey was silenced as soon as he sat in the shadow of his mother’s little house.

But he was so tired that he soon fell asleep. He dreamed that the child and the old lady were standing before him, that the former had a great bunch of grapes in her hand and the latter a shovel and was shovelling up the earth, her face revealing a soul of sorrows. Eva seemed to him to be much more beautiful than she had been a year ago; he felt drawn to the child by an uncontrollable power and a painful love that stood in a most unusual relation to what his mother was doing. The longer his mother shovelled in the earth the heavier his heart became, but he could not say anything; he felt as if a glorious song were pouring forth from his soul, a song such as he had never heard in his life. Enraptured by its beauty, he woke up. At first he thought he could still hear it, but it was only the splashing of the water in the Wolfram fountain.

The moon was high in the heavens. Daniel went over to the fountain just as the night watchman came along, blew his trumpet and sang: “Listen, all men, I wish to tell that it has struck two from the town-hall bell.” The watchman noticed the lonely man standing by the fountain, was startled at first, but then continued on his rounds, repeating from time to time the words of his official song.

Often as a child Daniel had read the inscription on the base of the Wolfram figure. Now he read the words, irradiated by the light of the moon, and they had a totally different meaning:

Water gives to the trees their life,
And makes with fertile vigour rife
All creatures of the world.
By water all our eyes are purled;
It washes clean man’s very soul
And makes it like an angel, whole.

[289]

Simple words, but Daniel read them in the light of a full experience, dipped his hands in the basin, and rubbed them over his eyes drunk with sleep; then casting one more glance at his mother’s house, he turned in the direction of the road leading away from the town.

Out in the fields it was too damp for him to lie down to rest. Near an isolated farm house he found a hay rick, went up to it, and lay down.

VI

Every time Eleanore looked at Daniel her heart was filled with the same anxiety. She did not understand him; she could not comprehend a single one of his movements. Such joy as she had arose from meditation on the past.

He did not seem to be able to recall her. One word, any word, from him would have relieved her of her anguish; but he spoke to her precisely as he spoke to Philippina or to Frau Kütt, the woman who came in to do the housework.

It was bad enough to live with Philippina, to feel the incessant hatred of this secretive person; to suspect that she knew things that would not stand the light of day. But to see the child handed over to her, treated by her as though it were her own and guarded by her with a jealousy that made her face wrinkle with rage if Eleanore presumed to stay with it for as much as five minutes, this was infinitely worse.

It was bad enough to have to accept with filial obedience the society of the speechless old father who spent his days and nights in his own mysterious way, striving without peace of any kind to reach an unknown goal. This made it hard for Eleanore. It was spooky in the rooms upstairs, and equally spooky in the ones downstairs. Eleanore dreaded the coming winter. At times she felt that her own voice had an unreal sound, and that her most commonplace remark echoed with the gloom of unhappy premonitions.

She sought refuge in the old pictures of her longings—southern landscapes with groves and statues and a sea of supernatural blue. But she was too mature to find enduring satisfaction in empty dreams; she preferred, and felt it were better, to forget her grief in the distractions of hard work. It was not until the pen fell from her hand, weighed down with distress at the thought of so many unadorned and unrelieved hours, that something drew her back into the realm of spirits and visions. And then it was that [290]she sought support, that she endeavoured to get a footing, in the world of actual objects round about her.

She would take a pear, and think herself, so to speak, into the very heart of this bit of fruit, just as if it were possible to find protection, shelter in so small a space. Or she would take a piece of coloured glass, hold it in her hand, and look at the world of reality about her, hoping that the commonplace would in this way be made to seem more beautiful. Or she looked into the burning fire, and studied, with a smile on her face, the romantic tongues of flames. Or she had a longing to look at old pictures: she went to the Germanic Museum, and spent an entire morning there, standing before a Crucifixion, a Last Supper, her eye and her heart filled with flowing emotion.

Her love for flowers became stronger than ever, and she began to study them. The most of them she picked herself; those that grew only in gardens she bought from the florists, paying very little for them. After she had made several purchases, they refused to take any more money from her; they gave her just as many flowers as she wanted. She took them home, and made bouquets out of them.

One evening she was frightened by Philippina, who came rushing up to her just as she was arranging her flowers and told her that little Agnes had a high fever. Eleanore went out and got the doctor, who immediately reassured her. As she returned, her astonishment was intense and unusual. Reaching the door, her eyes fell on the flowers: they seemed wonderfully beautiful to her; the harmony and play of their colours was so striking that she involuntarily looked around in the illusion that a stranger had called during her absence, brought the flowers, and arranged them in their artistic bouquets.

In the meantime poverty was haunting the house in very tangible form. Neither the butcher nor the baker was willing any longer to deliver goods on credit. It was quite impossible for Eleanore to support five people with her clerical work, to say nothing of keeping them in clothes and paying the rent. However hard she might work, the most she could do was to get enough money for the barest necessities. Her cares multiplied day by day.

She had always been an implacable foe of debts; she would not make them. But after all, the people could not starve, and so she had to contract debts now. Bitter humiliations were unavoidable; she looked into the future with untempered dread. She racked her brain trying to devise plans, deplored her weakness [291]and the gaps in her training, bemoaned the neglect both she and Daniel were suffering, and was quite disturbed to see that Philippina’s heart was filled with joy at the thought that the destitution of the household with its accompanying mental anguish was rapidly increasing.

Twice a day the druggist sent in his bill; finally he came in person. It was along toward evening when he rang. Philippina treated him so impolitely that he became impudent, and made such a noise that the people on the lower floors came out into the hall and leaned over the railing of the stairs. Eleanore ran down and stood before the man with folded hands. Jordan also left his room and looked on, sighing.

Others came in and started trouble. Philippina came up to Eleanore, and, with a smile on her face as if she were going to tell of some great good fortune that had come to the family, said: “There’s another down there, Eleanore; come down and give him a piece of your mind, or I’m thinking he’s going to call the police.”

After quiet had been restored, Philippina began to rage and rant: “Daniel’s a dunderhead. He could live like a Kaiser if he’d mix with the right people. I know a woman who is lousy with money, and she’s going to git a lot more; but Daniel, the poor bloke, ain’t got a ghost of an idea as to how to work people.” She laughed furiously; or, in order to ventilate her spiteful rage, she picked up some object and smashed it to pieces on the floor.

Eleanore did not hear what she had said. Her hope was gone. Daniel had been out of work for three months: who could explain his strange inactivity? The rent would be due in a short while, and then what?

One morning she went to Daniel’s room and said: “Daniel, we are out of money.”

He was sitting at the table reading; he looked at her as if he had to think for a while who she was: “Just have patience,” he said, “you are not going to starve.”

“I am doing all that I possibly can, Daniel,” continued Eleanore; “but tell me, please, how are you planning to keep the house going? I see no way out. Tell me, Daniel, tell me, please, what you are going to do.”

“A musician must be poor, Eleanore,” replied Daniel, and looked at her with eyes that seemed to be frozen.

“But he has got to live, I should think.”

“You can’t live from husks alone, and I am not going to work my head off for husks.”

[292]

“Daniel, oh Daniel, where is your mind? And where is your heart?” cried Eleanore in despair.

“Where I should have been long ago,” he replied, without the shadow of a ray of hope. He got up, and turning his face away from Eleanore, said in a half-audible voice: “Let’s have no argument, no cogency, no urgency. Not now! Not now when I am creeping along on the earth with such light as is left me, trying to grope my way out of the hole. A man doesn’t give up the ghost so quickly as all that, Eleanore. The stomach is a very elastic piece of skin.”

He went into the other room, sat down at the piano, and struck a slow-moving bass chord.

Eleanore turned to the wall, and buried her feverish brow in her hands.

VII

It was not in Eleanore’s nature to submit to a misfortune without first having made every possible effort to evade it.

She wrote for from fourteen to sixteen hours a day, with the result that she had finished all that was asked of her long before her time was really up.

Then she looked around for a better paying position; it was in vain. Women had never been paid well, she had no recommendations, no personal connections, nothing on which she could depend or to which she might refer.

Finally it occurred to her that she might make some money out of her flowers. She went to the florist at St. Lorenz Place, taking with her a garland of carnations and mignonettes she had made the day before. She told the florist she knew a great deal about flowers and had had considerable experience in handling them.

The man laughed at her, and told her he could find no sale for that kind of things, and that, even if he could, he would have to ask so little for them that it would not pay her to make them. Eleanore took her flowers back home; she was profoundly discouraged. She saw herself how perishable flowers were; these withered that same evening. Nothing could be expected from that source.

She had not noticed that, as she left the florist shop, a man on the other side of the street had stopped and looked at her. He was a haggard young individual with a pale, peevish expression on his face, a man with a chin the unimpressiveness of which was hidden behind a Vandyke beard.

He stood for a long while and looked at Eleanore as she walked [293]down the street. There could be no doubt but that something in her general bearing and her face had drawn his attention to her; had awakened in him a feeling that was nobler than mere curiosity or the satisfaction an idler derives from gaping.

The young man finally began to move; he walked rather stiffly across the square and entered the florist’s shop. A few minutes later the florist, a man past middle age, with the typical toper’s nose, threw open his door and removed his cap, actions which in addition to his fawning bow were unmistakable proof to the merchants on either side of him that it was no ordinary sale he had just made. The young man went his way, ambling along in shiftless indifference to where he was or the time of day.

The next morning the florist’s errand boy came to Eleanore, and told her that his chief had something very important to say to her, and that she should come at once. Eleanore followed the call without delay. As she entered the shop, the florist greeted her with unusual politeness, and told her that a man who took a special fancy to the kind of flowers she had shown him the day before had been there and placed an order for two such bouquets, or even three, a week at twenty marks each. He advised her to exercise all diligence in making the flowers and said that when such a rain of good fortune descended upon one it was wise to let other things take care of themselves. The only condition the florist imposed on her was absolute silence. The customer did not wish his name to be known, nor did he wish to be seen. He remarked casually that there was manifestly some whim or crotchet back of the man’s action, such as is so frequently the case with aristocratic people.

Who was happier than Eleanore! She never bothered herself for a minute about the illogical and legendary element in the offer of a man who only a day before had appeared so shrewd and cautious. She drank in every word of the florist’s detailed statement, and merely believed that in this city, among its inhabitants, there was an eccentric fellow who was willing to pay such a princely price for her flowers simply because he liked flowers and was pleased with the way she put them up. Though she had not been spoiled by fortune, the transformation that had suddenly taken place in her circumstances awakened in her not the slightest suspicion or surprise. She was too happy to be distrustful, too grateful to become inquisitive. Her thoughts were on Daniel, who, she felt, was saved. The whole way home she smiled to herself as if lost in dreams.

[294]

Evening after evening she sat with the flowers she had gathered in the forenoon from the forests, the meadows, and the gardens out by the city fortress, where an old gardener went with her and picked out the choicest specimens for her. He had a crippled son who fell in love with Eleanore and always stood in the door and smiled at her when she came. He promised he would get her flowers from the green house during the winter.

The butcher was paid, the baker was paid; the druggist was paid, and so was the rent. Philippina shook her head, and swore there was something wrong. She was convinced that it would all come out some day, even if you had to scratch the dung hill to get at the secret. She told the people about a ghost that carried on every night up in the attic; and once when the moon was shining she came running into the room and swore that a bony finger had rapped on the window.

Eleanore bound roses and gilliflowers, tulips and pansies, mosses, ferns, and what-not into beautiful tapestried pictures, or wound them into wreaths and garlands. She gave herself up to this novel occupation with the sacrificial love of a woman of her type; and at times she became dizzy from so much fragrance. But this mattered not. She arranged her flowers; and then she would lean out of the window, and sing gently into the night.

Daniel was ignorant of what she was doing; he had not troubled himself about the distressing poverty of past weeks; he did not concern himself now with their abundance; where it came from he never asked.

VIII

Eberhard von Auffenberg had returned to the city shortly after the death of Gertrude Nothafft. The last large sum he had received from Herr Carovius, now nearly a year ago, he had almost used up. He found Herr Carovius quite changed in his attitude toward him. Herr Carovius declared that he was bankrupt, that he could not get any more money for him. Instead of complaining or boasting, or flattering his princely friend, or trying to incite him to activity of some kind, as he had been accustomed to do, he wrapped himself in a silence that could not be regarded as a favourable omen.

Eberhard had no desire to beg. Herr Carovius’s personality was so disagreeable to him that he refused to investigate the cause of [295]his novel behaviour. He let his thoughts take their own course; and they drifted into other channels.

The gossip afloat concerning Eleanore had naturally reached his ears. Herr Carovius had seen to it that there was no lack of insinuations, either written or oral. But Eberhard had ignored them. Offensive insults that had dared attach themselves to Eleanore seemed to him as incredible as litter from the street on the radiant moon.

One day he had to call on Herr Carovius because of a note that had been protested. They discussed the affair in a dry, business-like way, and then, all of a sudden, Herr Carovius fixed his piercing eyes on the Baron, walked around the table time after time, dressed in his sleeping gown, and told, without the omission of a single detail, of the lamentable death of Daniel Nothafft’s young wife.

He became highly excited; why, it would be hard to say. “Let us hope that the Kapellmeisterette will come to his senses now,” he cried in a falsetto voice. “He is already on the point of starvation; ah, believe me, he is nearly done for. It will be necessary to take up a collection for the unrecognised genius. He has already put one of his women in the grave, the other is still kicking. By the way, how do you like her, the angel? Are you not a bit sorry for the neat little halo that now hangs like a piece of castoff clothing on the bedpost of an adulteress? Of course, geniuses are allowed to do as they please. O Eleanore, bloody lie that you are, you hypocritical soft, sneaking, slimy lie—Eleanore!”

With that Eberhard stepped up very calmly to the unleashed demon in pajamas, seized him by the throat, and held him with such a fierce and unrelenting grip that Herr Carovius sank to his knees, while his face became as blue as a boiled carp. After this he was remarkably quiet; he crept away. At times he tittered like a simpleton; at times a venomous glance shot forth from under his eyelids. But that was all.

Eberhard poured some water in a basin, dipped his hands in it, dried them, and went away.

The picture of the whining man with the puffed and swollen eyes and the blue face was indelibly stamped on Eberhard’s memory. He had felt a greedy, voluptuous desire to commit murder. He felt he was not merely punishing and passing final judgment on his own tormentor and persecutor, but on the hidden enemy of humanity, the arch-criminal of the age, the destroyer of all noble seed.

[296]

And yet the exalted outburst of Herr Carovius had precisely the effect that Eberhard had least expected. His confidence in Eleanore’s innocence had been shaken. There may have been in Herr Carovius’s voice, despite the slanderous wrath with which his cowardly tongue was coated, something that sounded truer than the wretch himself suspected. Eberhard saw just then, for the first time in his life, the adored figure of the girl as a human being like all other human beings; and as if through a distant vision he experienced in his heart what had taken place.

His illusions were destroyed.

In his soul he had gone through the trials of renunciation long ago. His passionate wishes of former times had gone through a process of weakening from loss of blood. He had learned to bow to the inevitable; he had made a special effort to acquire this bit of earthly wisdom. When he surveyed the life he had lived in the past five years, it resembled, despite its flux and the incessant change from city to city and country to country, a sojourn in a room with closed doors and drawn shades.

When he had returned to the city, which he loved simply because Eleanore lived in it, he had had no intention of reminding Eleanore of the expiration of the time mutually agreed upon. He felt that it would be a banal display of poor taste to appear before her once again as an awkward, jilted suitor, and try to reconnect the thread where it had been so ruthlessly broken five years ago. He had intended not to disturb her or worry her in any way. But to go to her and speak with her, that had been the one bright ray of hope in all these empty years.

After the scene with Herr Carovius he decided quite firmly to keep away from Eleanore.

His ready cash had shrunk to a few hundred marks. He discharged his servants, disposed of some of his jewelry, and rented one of those little houses that are stuck on the rocks up by the castle like so many wasp nests. The house he took had been occupied before him by the Pfragners, and with its three rooms was not much larger than a fair-sized cage in a menagerie. But he had taken it into his head to live there, and that was all there was to it. He bought some old furniture, and adorned the slanting walls of the dilapidated barracks with such pictures as he had.

One evening there was a knock at the green door of the cottage. Eberhard opened, and saw Herr Carovius standing before him.

[297]

Herr Carovius entered the Baron’s doll house, looked around in astonishment, and, pale as a sheet, said: “So help me God, it seems to me you are trying to play the rôle of a hermit. This won’t do; this is no place for a Baron; I will not stand for it.”

Eberhard reached for the book he had been reading, a volume of Carl du Prel, and read on without replying to Herr Carovius or even taking notice of the fact that he was present.

Herr Carovius tripped from one foot to the other. “Perhaps the Baron will be so good as to take a look at his account,” he said in a beseeching tone. “I am in a tight place. My capital is gone, and my debts in the shape of interest have been swelling like the Pegnitz in the spring of the year. Would you like to know what I have been living on for the last three months? I have been living on turnips, potato peelings, and brick cheese; that has been my daily diet; and I have submitted to it for the sake of my Baron.”

“I am not a bit interested in what you have been eating,” said the Baron arrogantly, and kept on reading.

Herr Carovius continued with an imbecile sulk: “When you left me recently because of that little quarrel we had about the Goose Man, it never occurred to me that you were going to take the matter so seriously. Lovers like to be teased, I thought. He’ll come back, I thought, he’ll come back just as sure as laughter follows tickling. Well, I was mistaken. I thought you were of a more gentle disposition, and that you would be more indulgent with an old friend. Yes, we make mistakes sometimes.”

Eberhard remained silent.

Herr Carovius sighed, and sat down timidly on the narrow edge of the sofa that stood next to the whitewashed wall. He sat there for almost an hour in perfect silence. Eberhard appreciated neither the ridiculous nor the fantastic element in the conduct of his guest. He read on.

And then, all of a sudden, Herr Carovius sprang to his feet, took his wallet from his pocket, drew out a thousand-mark note, and laid it, together with a blank receipt, across the page Eberhard was reading. Before the Baron could recover from his amazement he had already disappeared, closing the door behind him. The sound of his footsteps on the street could be heard in the room; but he was gone.

What rare living creatures there are, O World, and what rare dead ones, too! This is the thought that passed through Eberhard’s mind.

[298]

IX

That two men as radically different by nature as Eberhard and Daniel chanced to meet and be drawn together at the very period of their lives when both had voluntarily renounced human society was due to one of those decrees of Providence that contain in them either a law of crystallisation or the attraction of polar forces, however much they may seem to be matters of pure chance.

Their coming together took place on the day after Daniel had gone to Eschenbach. At the break of day, Daniel had decided to return by way of Schwabach, both for the sake of variety and because this was the shorter route. The sun was hotter than on the day before; and when it had reached the height of its ability to dry up the land and scorch a human being, Daniel lay down in the forests. Late in the afternoon, just as he was approaching Schwabach, great black clouds began to gather in the West; a fearful storm was evidently to be expected. Heavy streaks of lightning flashed across the sky; and although Daniel tried to hasten his steps, the storm overtook him. Before he could reach the shelter of a house, he was wet to the skin from head to foot.

The rain came down in torrents. He waited a long while, and then had to start out in it again, arriving finally at the station shivering with cold. As he went to buy his ticket he noticed a lean, haggard, unusual looking individual standing at the ticket window. It is quite probable that, vexed by his uncomfortable condition, Daniel treated him none too courteously; he pushed up against him, whereupon the man turned around, and Daniel recognised the young Baron, Eberhard von Auffenberg. Eberhard in turn recognised Daniel. It is unlikely that there was at that time another face in the world which could belong so completely to just one person as that of Daniel.

The Baron had been attracted to Schwabach by his affection for a certain person there, an affection he had preserved from the days of his childhood. There lived in Schwabach at the time a woman who had been his nurse. Her undivided and resigned love for him was touching. She was as proud of him as she might have been had she been able to say that in him she had been responsible for the childhood training of the noblest specimen of manhood known to human history. And he was fond of her; the stories she told him he could still recall, and he did recall them frequently and with pleasure. She had married the foreman of a tin mill, and had sons and daughters of her own. Eberhard had been planning [299]for years to visit her. This visit had now been paid. But Eberhard could not say that he had derived extraordinary pleasure from it: it had taken an inner figure from his soul. And, on the other hand, whether the nurse felt, on seeing the tall, lank, stiff, and ill-humoured foster son, that enraptured charm she so much liked to conjure up before her imagination, is a question that had better remain unanswered.

When Eberhard became aware of the condition in which Daniel then found himself, his feelings of chivalry were moved. With the dauntless courage of which he was capable, he subdued the apathy he had cherished toward Daniel ever since he first came to know him, and to which actual detestation and disquieting jealousy had been added a few weeks ago. “You have been out in the rain,” said Eberhard courteously, but with a reserve that was rigid if not quite forbidding or impenetrable.

“I look like it, don’t I?” said Daniel with a scowl.

“You will catch cold if you are not careful. May I offer you my top coat?” continued Eberhard more courteously. He felt as if he could see the figure of Eleanore rising up behind Daniel, that she was quite surrounded by flowers, and that she was smiling at him in joy and gratitude. He bit his lips and blushed.

Daniel shook his head: “I am accustomed to all kinds of weather. Thank you.”

“Well, then, at least wrap this around your neck; the water is running down your back.” Thereupon Eberhard reached him a white silk kerchief he drew from the pocket of his coat. Daniel make a wry face, but took the kerchief, threw it about his neck, and tied it in a knot under his chin.

“You are right,” he admitted, and drew his head down between his shoulders: “It all reminds me of a good warm bed.”

Eberhard stared at the locomotive of the in-coming train. “Plebeian,” he thought, with inner contempt.

Nevertheless he joined this same plebeian in the third-class carriage, though he had bought a ticket for first class. Was it the white silk kerchief that so suddenly attracted him to the plebeian? What else could it have been? For during the entire journey they sat opposite each other in absolute silence. It was a remarkable pair: the one in a shabby, wet suit with a hat that looked partly as though it belonged to a cheap sign painter, and partly as though it were the sole head gear of a gypsy bard, and with a big pair of spectacles from which the eyes flashed green and unsteady; the other looking as though he had just stepped out of a [300]bandbox, not a particle of dust on his clothing, in patent leather slippers, English straw hat, and with an American cigarette in his mouth.

Next to them sat a peasant woman with a chicken basket on her lap, a red-headed girl who held the hind part of pig on her knees, and a workman whose face was bandaged.

At times they looked at each other. If they chanced to catch each other’s eye, the Baron would at once look down, and Daniel, bored as he was, would gaze out of the window at the rain. But there must have been something unusually communicative and mutually intelligent in the few glances with which they involuntarily honoured each other during the journey; for when the train pulled into the station, they left together, and walked along the street quite peacefully, side by side, just as if it were to be taken as a matter of fact that they would remain in each other’s company.

Man is a gregarious animal; given the right conditions, one man will seek out the company of another. Neither defiance nor reserve is of the slightest avail; there is something that conquers the strongest man when he finds another who will yield. Then it is that what was formerly regarded as contentment with loneliness is unmasked and shown to be nothing more than ordinary self-deception.

“I presume you wish to go home and change your clothes,” said Eberhard, standing on the street corner.

“I am already dry,” said Daniel, “and I really have no desire to go home. Over there on Schütt Island is a little inn called the Peter Vischer. I like it because it is frequented only by old people who talk about old times, and because it is situated on a bridge, so that you have the feeling you are in a ship floating around on the water.”

Eberhard went along. From eight o’clock till midnight they sat there opposite each other. Their conversation was limited to such remarks as, “It is really quite comfortable here.”—“It seems to have stopped raining.”—“Yes, it has stopped.”—“That old white-bearded man over by the stove who is doing so much talking is a watchmaker from Unschlitt Place.”—“So? He looks pretty husky.”—“He is said to have fought in the battle of Wörth.”—And so their remarks ran.

When they separated, Eberhard knew that Daniel would again be at the Peter Vischer on Wednesday of the following week, and Daniel knew that he would find the Baron there.

[301]

X

Philippina was on her knees by the hearth, cleaning out the ashes; Eleanore was sitting by the kitchen table, adding up the week’s expenses in a narrow note-book.

“You ought-a git married, Eleanore,” said Philippina, as she blew on a hot coal, “’deed you ought; it’s the right time for you.”

“Ah, leave me alone,” said Eleanore angrily.

Philippina crouched still lower on the hearth: “I mean well by you, I do,” she said. “You’re simply killing yourself here. With your white skin and sugary eyes—uhm, uhm! You bet if I had ’em like yours I’d git one. Men are all as dumb as shoats outside of a sty.”

“Keep quiet,” said Eleanore, and went on counting: “Seven from fifteen leaves eight....”

“An angel has made your bed,” interrupted Philippina with a giggle. “I know a fellow,” she went on, her face becoming rather sour, “he’s just the right one. Money? whew! He’s stuck on you too, believe me! If I wuz to go to him and say, Eleanore Jordan is willing, I believe the old codger would give me a bag of gold. Cross my heart, Eleanore, and he’s a fine man too. He can play the piano just as good as Daniel, if not better. When he plays you can see the sparks fly.”

Eleanore got up, and closed the book. “Do you want me to give you a present for finding me a man, Philippina?” she asked, with a sympathetic smile. “And you are trying to sound me? Go on, you fool.”

“Come wind and blow my fire hot, so that my soup be not forgot,” whispered Philippina with a gloomy face.

Eleanore left the kitchen and went upstairs. Her heart was full of longing; it was in truth almost bursting with longing.

XI

It was at the beginning of October that Daniel for the first time visited Eberhard in his doll house up by the castle.

They had met each other in the Peter Vischer on the evening agreed upon, but there was a special party there that evening, a sort of a clam-bake; the place was crowded; the noise was disagreeable, so that they left much earlier than they had intended.

They walked along in silence until they reached the Town Hall, [302]when Eberhard said: “Won’t you come up and sit awhile with me?” Daniel nodded.

Eberhard lighted the six candles of a chandelier in his diminutive room. Seeing that Daniel was surprised, he said: “There is nothing I hate worse than gas or oil. That is light; gas and oil merely give off illuminated stench.”

For a while there was complete silence in the room; Daniel had stretched out on the sofa.

“Illuminated stench,” he repeated with a smile of satisfaction. “That is not bad; it is the new age in which we are living. I believe they call it fin de siècle. The day when things flourish is gone; everything has to be manufactured now. Men have become Americans, gruesomely sobered by the intoxication of doing a big business; women have lost their nicety of instinct; the cities have become colossal steam engines; everybody, young and old, is on his belly adoring the so-called wonders of science, just as if it really meant anything to humanity that a loafer in Paris can sip his morning coffee and crunch his rolls while reading that the Pope spent a restful night, or that a gun has been invented which will send a bullet through fourteen people one after another, whereas the best record up to the present had been only seven to a shot. Who can create anything, who can draw anything from his soul under such conditions? It is madness, it is immoral discipline.”

“Oh, I don’t know; I think a man can draw something from within his soul,” said the Baron, in whose face a bored, peeved expression gave way to one of suspense. “It is possible, for example, to conjure the invisible spirit into visibility.”

Daniel, who had not yet suspected that the Baron was, in a way, speaking from another country and in a strange tongue, continued: “The whole supply of interest and enthusiasm at the disposal of the nation has been used up. The venerable creations of days gone by still have nominal value; that is, they are still gaped at and praised, but creative, reproductive, and moulding power they no longer have. Otherwise hocus-pocus alone prospers, and he who does forgive it is not forgiven. But life is short; I feel it every day; and if you do not attend to the plant, it soon withers and dies.”

“It is not only hocus-pocus,” replied Eberhard, who was now completely transformed, though he did not grasp the painful indignation of the musician. “You see, I have associated but very little with men. My refuge has been the realm of departed and [303]invisible spirits who take on visible form only when a believing soul makes an unaffected appeal to them. It was my task to de-sensualise and de-materialise myself; then the spirits took on shape and form.”

Daniel straightened up, and saw how pale the Baron had become. It seemed to him that they were both quite close together, and at the same time poles removed from each other. He could not refrain however from taking up the thread of his thought. “Yes, yes,” he exclaimed with the same short, jerky laugh that accompanied the beginning of the conversation, “my little spirits also demand faith, credulity, and whine and cry for form and shape. You have expressed yourself in an admirable way, Baron.”

“And have you given up in final resignation with regard to your spirits?” asked Eberhard, in a serious tone.

“Resignation? To what? Of what? Do you imagine that is necessary in my case? I am the counterpart of Cronos. My children devour me; they devour my living body. I conjure up spirits and endow them with flesh and blood, and in return for what I do they convert me into a shadow. They are rebellious fellows, I tell you, quite without mercy. I am supposed to arouse a citizenry on their behalf that is petrified with indifference. The very thing, or things, that offend and disgust me, I am supposed to take up and carry about on an unencumbered shoulder. I am supposed to be their prostitute and offer them my body at a price. I am supposed to be their retail grocer and haggle in their behalf. There is something inspiring about a struggle, and when the enemy is worthy of one’s steel there is a distinct pleasure in entering the fray. But my little spirits want to be pampered and have a lot of attention paid them. The hate, consequently, that is being dammed up within me is possibly nothing but rage at my fruitless wooing. No, mine is not an honest hate, because I long to get at every ragged beggar who will have nothing to do with my spirits, because my entire life consists in pleading for an audience with people who do not care to listen, and scraping together pennies of love from people who cannot love, because two or three are not enough for me, because I must have thousands and am nothing if I don’t have thousands, and pine away in anguish and distress if I cannot imagine that the whole world is keeping step with my pace and keeping in time with the swing of my baton. I can despise Mushroom Mike who lies down by his wife at night drunk as a fool, and to whom the name of Beethoven is an empty sound; Jason Philip Schimmelweis makes me laugh when he looks[304] me in the face and says, I don’t give a damn for all your art. And yet there is humanity in such people, and so long as this is true I must have them; I must convince them, even if my heart is torn from my breast in the attempt. Would you call this life? This digging-up of corpses from the graves, and breathing the breath of life into them so that they may dance? And doing it with the consciousness that this moment is the only one? I am; I exist; here is the table, there are the wax candles, and over there sits a man; and when I have stopped talking everything is different, everything is as if a year had passed by, and everything is irrevocable. Show me a way to humanity, to men, and then I will believe in God.”

The Baron’s head swam; his brain felt close; it seemed to be sultry, stuffy in his skull. He could not help but think of certain exciting meetings where the people had sat in the dark in trembling expectancy and then suddenly heard a voice from beyond the tomb at the sound of which the marrow froze in their bones. He hardly dared look at the place where Daniel was sitting. The words of the musician caused him infinite pain: there lay in them a greediness, a shamelessness, and a gruesomeness that filled him with terror.

He could almost have asked: And Eleanore? And Eleanore?

But however much he felt repelled, owing to his training, association, and general views of life, there was nevertheless something about the whole situation before which he bowed. He could not have said precisely what it was, but it seemed to be a compromise between fear and convulsion.

As he was pondering over it all, he heard a rattling at the window. He looked up, and saw the face of Herr Carovius pressed so tightly against the pane that his nose was as flat as a pancake, while his glasses looked like two opalescent grease spots on the water.

Daniel also looked up; he too saw the face of Herr Carovius, then distorted with wrath and filled with threats. He looked at the Baron in amazement; the latter got up and said: “You will have to pardon the annoyance; I forgot to draw the blinds.”

With that he went to the window, and pulled down the dark shade over the face of Herr Carovius.

XII

That same night, just as Daniel was crossing the hall of his [305]apartment, he detected a strong scent of flowers. He had smelt them before, but they had never seemed to be so fragrant as at present. Because of the season of the year, the sensation was all the more pronounced and unusual.

He sniffed around for a while, and then saw that the door to Eleanore’s room was open: her light was shining out on the stairs.

When Daniel was not at home of an evening, Eleanore always kept her door open so that she could hear when he came in. Daniel was unaware of this; he had never seen the light on any previous night.

He thought for a moment, then locked the door, and went up the stairs. But Eleanore must have heard his approaching footsteps; for she stepped hastily out into the vestibule, and said with evident embarrassment: “Please stay downstairs, Daniel; Father is asleep. If you wish I will come down to the living room.”

She did not wait for his answer, but went into her room, got the table lamp, and followed Daniel to the living room. Daniel closed the window, and shook as if he were cold; for it was a cool night, and there was no fire in the stove.

“What is this I smell?” he asked. “Have you so many flowers up in your room?”

“Yes, I have some flowers,” replied Eleanore, and blushed.

He looked at her rather sharply, but was disinclined to make any further inquiry, or he was not interested in knowing what this all meant. He walked around the room with his hands in his pockets.

Eleanore had sat down on a chair; she never once took her eyes off Daniel.

“Listen, Daniel,” she said suddenly, and the violin tone of her voice lifted him from his mute and heavy meditations, “I know now what Father is doing.”

“Well, what is the old man doing?” asked Daniel distractedly.

“He is working at a doll, Daniel.”

“At a doll? Are you trying to poke fun at me?”

Eleanore, whose cheeks had turned pale, began to tell her story: “Yesterday afternoon, Father took advantage of the beautiful weather, and went on a walk for the first time in a long while. During his absence, I went to his room to straighten it up a little. I noticed that the door to the large cabinet was not closed as usual, but was standing ajar. He probably forgot to lock it. I did not suspect anything, and knew that there was no harm in what I was going to do, so I opened the door, and what did I see? A [306]big doll, about the size of a four-year-old child, a wax figure with big eyes and long, yellow hair. But there were no clothes on it: the lower part of the back and the front from the neck to the legs had been removed. Inside, there where a person’s heart and entrails are, was a network of wheels and screws and little tubes and wires, all made of real metal.”

“That is strange, really strange. Well?”

“He is making something,” continued Eleanore, “that much is clear. But if I could tell you how I felt when I saw the thing! I never felt so sad in my life. I have shown him so little love, just as Fate has been so unlovely to him. And everything—the air and the light and the people and how one feels towards the people and how they feel towards you, all seemed to me to be so hopelessly without love that I could not help it: I just sat down before that doll and cried. The poor man! The poor old man!”

“Strange, really strange,” repeated Daniel.

After a while, as if conscious of his guilt, he took a seat by the table. Eleanore however got up, went to the window, and leaned her forehead against the glass.

“Come here to me, Eleanore,” said Daniel in a changed tone of voice.

She came. He took her hand and looked into her face. “How in the world have you been keeping the house going all this time?” he asked, viewing the situation in the light of his guilty conscience.

Eleanore let her eyes fall to the floor. “I have done my writing, and I have had considerable success with the flowers. I have even been able to save a little money. Don’t look at me like that, Daniel. It was nothing wonderful I did; you have no reason to feel especially grateful to me.”

He drew her down on his knees, and threw his arms around her shoulders. “You probably think I have forgotten you,” he said sorrowfully, and looked up, “that I have forgotten my Eleanore. Forget my Eleanore? My spirit sister? No, no, dear heart, you have known for a long while that we have begun our common pilgrimage—for life, for death.”

Eleanore lay in his arms; her face was perfectly white; her body was rigid; her eyes were closed.

Daniel kissed her eyes: “You must hold me, keep me, even when it seems that I have left you,” he murmured.

Then he carried her in his arms through the door into his room.

[307]

“I have so longed, I have been so full of longing,” she said, pressing her lips to his neck.

XIII

Before one could realise it, winter had come, and the Place with the Church was covered with snow.

Eleanore had gone skating; when she returned she sat down in the living room to wait for Daniel. There she sat with her fur cap on her head, holding her skates in her hand by the cord: she was tired—and she was thinking.

Daniel entered the room and greeted her; she looked up, and said with a gentle voice: “I am with child, Daniel; I found it out to-day.”

He fell on his knees, and kissed the tips of her fingers. Eleanore drew a deep breath; a smile of dream-like cheerfulness spread over her face.

The following day Daniel went to the Town Hall, and made arrangements to have the banns posted.

Hardly had Philippina heard that Daniel and Eleanore were to get married in February when she disappeared; she did not leave a trace of her whereabouts behind her. Little Agnes cried in vain for her “Pina.” Six days after Philippina had left, she came back just as mysteriously as she had gone away. She was desperately gloomy; her hair was towsled, her clothes were wrinkled, there were no soles on her shoes; she was as speechless as a clod, and remained so for weeks.

No one knew, nor has any one ever found out, what she did during those six days or where she had been.

Eleanore insisted on a church wedding; this caused Daniel a great deal of worry; it made him run many a vexatious errand. But he consented to do as Eleanore had asked; for he did not wish to deprive her of any pleasure she might imagine such a ceremony would give her. Eleanore made her own white dress and her veil. Gisela Degen, a younger sister of Martha Rübsam, and Elsa Schneider, the daughter of the rector of the Church of St. Ægydius, were to be her bridesmaids. Marian Nothafft and Eva were also to come over from Eschenbach; Eleanore had already sent them the money for the tickets.

“Help me with my sewing, Philippina,” said Eleanore one evening, and handed her silent house companion the veil, the border of which had to be made.

[308]

Philippina took her seat opposite Eleanore, and began to sew; she was silent. In the meanwhile, little Agnes, tottering about on the floor, fell and began to cry in a most pitiable fashion. Eleanore hastened over and picked the child up. Just then she heard a sound as if cloth were being torn. She looked around, and saw that the veil had an ugly rip in it: “You wicked thing! What do you mean, Philippina?” she exclaimed.

“I didn’t do it; it tore itself,” growled Philippina, taking every precaution to see that Eleanore might not catch her cowardly eye.

“You just leave that alone! Keep your hands off of it! You will sew evil thoughts into my veil,” replied Eleanore, filled with forebodings.

Philippina got up. “Well, it’s torn anyway, the veil,” she said in a defiant tone; “if harm is to come it will come; you can’t keep it off by sending me away.” Philippina left the room.

The injury to the veil was not as great as Eleanore had feared. It was a relatively easy matter to cut off the torn piece entirely, and still use the remainder.

But from that hour Eleanore was filled with sadness: her face might be compared to a beautiful landscape on which the first fog of autumn has settled. It is probable that the tearing of her veil had nothing to do with her depression: there was not a shimmer of superstition in her. Perhaps it was merely happiness and fulfilment: it may be that she felt the end had come, that happiness and fulfilment leave nothing more to be desired, that life from then on would be nothing but a hum-drum existence which does not give but only takes.

Perhaps her mind was darkened and weighed down with grief because of the life within her body; for that which is to come sends out its rays of melancholy just as well as that which has come and gone. What was there to hinder a pure soul from having an inner premonition of the fate that was in store for it? Why should this soul not learn in its dreams of the inevitable that was not so far ahead?

It was impossible to notice any change in Eleanore; her eyes were bright; she seemed peaceful. She would often sit before the mask of Zingarella; she hung it with fresh flowers every day: to her the mask was a mysterious picture of all that her own being, her own life, embraced.

Marian Nothafft came to the wedding alone. Just as in the case of Daniel’s wedding to Gertrude, she had left the child with a neighbour. She told Daniel and Eleanore that she could not [309]think of taking the child out on such a journey in the dead of winter. She mentioned Eva’s name or talked about her only in a half audible, subdued voice, a tender smile playing gently about her lips.

Among those present at the wedding in the Ægydius Church were Judge and Frau Rübsam, Councillor Bock, Impresario Dörmaul, Philippina Schimmelweis, Marian Nothafft, and Inspector Jordan. On the very last bench sat Herr Carovius; underneath one of the pillars, unseen by most of the people in the church, stood Baron Eberhard von Auffenberg.

Philippina walked along in an ugly, crouched, cowering fashion by the side of Jordan; had it not been that she was constantly chewing her finger nails, one would have thought she was asleep.

As the bridal couple was marching up to the altar, the sun broke out, and shone through the windows of the old church. The effect was touching; for just then Eleanore raised her head, stroked her veil back from her forehead, and caught the full light of the sun in her radiant face.

Old Jordan had laid his forehead on the prayer-desk; his back was quivering.

XIV

Late at night and in senseless excitement—for he was thinking of a bridal bed that filled him with the most intense pangs of jealousy—Herr Carovius sat in his room playing Chopin’s étude of the revolution. He would begin it again and again; he struck the keys with ever-increasing violence; the time in which he played the étude became wilder and wilder; the swing of his gestures became more and more eloquent; and his face became more and more threatening.

He was squaring accounts with the woman he had been unable to bring before his Neronic tribunal in bodily form; and all the pent-up hatred in his heart for the musician Nothafft he was emptying into the music of another man. The envy of the man doomed to limit his display of talent to the appreciation of what another had created laid violent hands on the creator; the impotence of the taster was infuriated at the cook. It was as if a flunked and floored comedian had gone out into the woods to declaim his part with nothing but the echo of his own voice to answer back.

His hatred of things in general, of the customs of human society, of order and prosperity, of state and family, of love and [310]marriage, of man and woman, had burst out into lurid flames. It was rare that a man had so cut, slashed, and vilified himself as did this depatriated citizen while playing the piano. He converted music into an orgy, a debauch, a debasing crime.

“Enough!” he bellowed, as he closed with an ear-splitting discord. He shut the piano with a vituperative bang, and threw himself into a rickety leather chair.

What his inner eye saw mocks at language and defies human speech. He was in that house over there; it lay in his power to murder his rival; he could abuse the woman who had been denied him by the wily tricks of circumstances; he chastised her; he dragged her from her bed of pleasure by the hair. He feasted on her sense of shame and on the angry twitchings of the musician, tied, bound, and gagged. He spared them no word of calumniation. The whole city stood before his court, and listened to the sentence he passed. Everybody stood in awe of him.

Thus it is that the citizen of the moral stature of Herr Carovius satisfies his thirst for revenge. Thus does the Nero of our time punish the crimes mankind commits against him in that it creates pleasures and enjoyments of which he is not in a position to partake.

But because he felt more abandoned to-day than ever, and more fearful in his abandonment, and because he felt so keenly the injustice done him by the man on whom he had hung for years with dog-like fidelity, and who avoided him to-day as one avoids an old dog that is no longer fit for anything, he decided in the depths of his embittered soul to avenge himself, and to do it by a means that would be quite different from playing the piano in accordance with the rules of his own perverted fancy.

With this decision in mind he sought sleep—at last.

XV

Jordan was now living all alone in the two attic rooms. He had asked of his own will that he be permitted to take over the clerical work Eleanore had been doing, and her employers had agreed to this arrangement. He was consequently enabled to pay the rent and a little on his board.

Daniel and Eleanore slept in the corner room in the front. Daniel moved his piano into the living room, and did all his work there. Philippina and Agnes remained in the room next to the kitchen.

Eleanore still made the bouquets, and still received the fancy [311]price for them from the unknown purchaser. But she did not attend to her flowers in Daniel’s presence, or even near him; she did this in the old room up next to the roof.

Her father would sit by her, and look at her thoughtfully. She had the feeling that he knew of everything that had taken place between her and Gertrude and Daniel, but, out of infinite delicacy and modesty, and also in grief and pain, had never said a word about it. For previous to her marriage with Daniel, he had never been with her; he had never sat and looked at her so attentively; he had always passed by her in great haste, and had always shown an inclination to be alone.

She had the feeling that he knew a great deal in general about men and things, but rarely said anything because of his superior sense of gentleness and compassion.

Daniel lived about as he did before the wedding. He would sit at the table until late at night and write. It often happened that Eleanore would find him sitting there with his pen in his hand, sound asleep, when she got up early in the morning. She always smiled when this took place, and wakened him by kissing him on the forehead.

He wrote the notes direct from his memory, from his head, just as other people write letters. He no longer needed an instrument to try what he had composed or to give him an inspiration for a new theme.

Once he showed Eleanore eighteen variations of the same melody. He had spent the whole night making changes in a single composition. Eleanore’s heart was heavy: she came very nearly asking, “For whom, Daniel? For what? The trunk up in the attic?”

She slowly began to perceive that it is not brooding reason that climbs and conquers the steps of perfection, but moral will. Like a flash of lightning she recognised one day the demoniacal element in this impulse, an impulse she had been accustomed to ascribe to his everlasting fidgeting, fumbling, and grumbling. She shuddered at the hitherto unsuspected distress of the man, and took pity on him: he was burying himself in darkness in order to give the world more light.

The world? What did it know about the creations of her Daniel! The big trunk was full of opus upon opus, and not a soul troubled itself about all these musical treasures resting in a single coffin.

There was something wrong here, she thought. There must be a lost or broken wheel in the clock-work of time; there was some disease among men; some poison, some evil, some heinous oversight.

[312]

She could think of nothing else. One day she decided to visit old Herold. At first he acted as though he would chew her to pieces, but afterwards he became more civil, at least civil enough to listen to her. Her features were remarkably brilliant and agile as she spoke. He expressed himself as follows later on: “If some one had promised me eternal blessedness on condition that I forget the picture of this pregnant woman, as she stood before me and argued the case of Daniel Nothafft vs. The Public, I would have been obliged to forego the offer, for I could never have fulfilled my part of the agreement. Forget her? Who would demand the impossible?”

Old Herold begged her to send him one of Daniel’s latest compositions, if she could. She said she would, and the next morning she took from the trunk the quartette in B minor for strings, and carried it over to the professor. He laid the score before him, and began to read. Eleanore took a seat, and patiently studied the many little painted pictures that hung on the wall.

The hour was up. The white-haired man turned the last leaf and struck his clenched fist on the paper, while around his leonine mouth there was a play partly of wrath and partly of awe. He said: “The case will be placed on the calendar, you worthiest of all Eleanores, but I am no longer the herald.”

He walked back and forth, wrung his hands, and cried: “What structure! What colourful tones! What a wealth of melody, rhythm, and originality! What discipline, sweetness, power! What a splendid fellow he is! And to think that a man like that lives right here among us, and plagues and tortures himself! A disgrace and a shame it is! Come, my dear woman, we will go to him at once. I want to press him to my bosom....”

But Eleanore, whose face burned with the feeling of good fortune, interrupted him, and said: “If you do that, you will spoil everything. It will be much better to tell me what to do. He will become more and more obstinate and bitter, if some ray of light does not soon fall on what he has thus far created.”

The old man thought for a while: “You leave the score with me; I’ll see what I can do with it; I have an idea,” he replied, after a short time had elapsed.

Eleanore went back home full of hope.

The quartette was sent to Berlin, and placed in the hands of a man of influence and discrimination. Some professional musicians soon became acquainted with it and its merits. Professor Herold received a number of enthusiastic letters, and answered them with [313]characteristic and becoming shrewdness. A cycle of sagas was soon afloat in Berlin concerning the habits and personality of the unknown master. It was said that he was an anchorite who lived in the Franconian forests and preached renunciation of all earthly pleasures.

In Leipzig the quartette was played before an invited audience. The applause was quite different from what it ordinarily was in the case of a public that is surfeited with musical novelties.

Thereby Daniel finally learned what had been done. One day he received a letter from the man who had arranged the concert, a certain Herr Löwenberg. The letter closed as follows: “A community of admirers is anxious to come into possession of your compositions. They send you their greetings at present with cordial gratitude.”

Daniel could scarcely believe his own eyes; it was like magic. Without saying a word he handed the letter to Eleanore. She read it, and looked at him quietly.

“Yes, I am guilty,” she said, “I stole the quartette.”

“Is that so? Do you realise, Eleanore, what you have done to me?”

Eleanore’s face coloured with surprise and fear.

“You ought to know; probably in the future you will lose interest in such womanish wiles.”

He walked back and forth, and then stepped up very close to her: “You probably think I am an idiotic simpleton, a dullard. You seem to feel that I am one of those rustic imbeciles, who has had his fingers frozen once, and spends his days thereafter sitting behind the stove, grunting and shaking every time anybody says weather to him. Well, you are wrong. There was a period when I felt more or less like that, but that time is no more.”

He started to walk back and forth again; again he stopped: “It is not because I think they are too good, nor is it because I am too inert or cowardly, that I keep my compositions under lock and key. I would have to have wheels in my head if I did not have sense enough to know that the effect of a piece is just as much a part of it as heat is a part of fire. Those people who claim that they can quite dispense with recognition and success are liars and that only. What I have created is no longer my property: it longs to reach the world; it is a part of the world; and I must give it to the world, provided, do you hear? provided it is a living thing.”

“Well then, Daniel,” said Eleanore, somewhat relieved.

[314]

“That is where the trouble lies,” he continued, as though he had never been interrupted, “it all depends on whether the piece has life, reality, the essence of true being in it. What is the use of feeding people with unripe or half-baked stuff? They have far too much of that already. There are too many who try and even can, but what they create lacks the evidence that high heaven insisted on its being created: there is no divine must about it. My imperfect creations would merely serve as so many stumbling blocks to my perfect ones. If a man has once been seduced by the public and its applause, so that he is satisfied with what is only half perfect, his ear grows deaf, his soul blind before he knows it, and he is the devil’s prey forever. It is an easy matter to make a false step, but there is no such thing as turning back with corrective pace. It cannot be done; for however numerous the possibilities may be, the actual deed is a one-time affair. And however fructifying encouragement from without may be, its effects are in the end murderous if it is allowed to drown out conscience. What I have created in all these years is good enough so far as it goes, but it is merely the preparatory drill to the really great work that is hovering before my mind. It is possible that I flatter myself; it may be that I am being cajoled by fraud and led on by visions; but it is in me, I feel certain of it, and it must come to light. Then we shall see what sort of creature it is. Then all my previous works will have ceased to exist; then I will bestir myself in a public way; I will come out and be the man that I really am. You can depend on it.”

Daniel had never talked to Eleanore in this way before. As she looked at him, overcome almost by the passion of his words, and saw him standing there so utterly fearless, so unyielding and unpitying, her breast heaved with a sigh, and she said: “God grant that you succeed, and that you live to enjoy the fruits of your ambition.”

“It is all a matter of fate, Eleanore,” he replied.

He demanded the quartette; it was sent back to him.

From then on Eleanore suppressed even the slightest sense of discontent that arose in her heart. She felt that he needed cruelty and harshness for his small life in order to preserve love and patience for the great life.

Yes, she prayed to Heaven that she might leave him harsh and cruel.

[315]

XVI

“Eleanore is my wife,” said Daniel every now and then; he would even stop in the middle of the street in order to enjoy to the full, and preserve if possible, the blessed realisation of this fact.

He always knew it. Yet when he was with Eleanore he frequently forgot her presence. There were days when he would pass by her as though she were some chance acquaintance.

Then there were other days when his happiness made him sceptical; he would say: “Is it then really happiness? Am I happy? If so, why is it that I do not feel my happiness more fervently, terribly?”

He would frequently study her form, her hands, her walk, and wish that he had new eyes, so that he might see her anew. He went away merely in order that he might see her better. In the night he would take a candle, and go up to her bed: a gentle anguish seemed to disappear from her features, his own pulse beat more rapidly. This was caused by the flame-blue of her eyes.

There is a point where the most demure and chaste woman differs in no wise from a prostitute. This is the source of infinite grief to the man who loves. No woman suspects or can understand it.

It was one day while he was brooding and musing and quarrelling without definite reason, in the arms of his beloved, that the profound, melancholy motif in the first movement of his symphony in D minor came to him. This symphony gradually grew into the great vision of his life, and, many years later, one of his women admirers gave it the modifying title of Promethean. The first time the theme sounded in his ears he roared like a wild beast, but with joy. It seemed to him that music was really born at that moment.

He pressed Eleanore so tightly to his bosom that she could not breathe, and murmured between his teeth: “There is no choice left: we have got to remain lifeless and irresponsive to each other’s presence or wound one another with love.”

“The mask, the mask,” whispered Eleanore anxiously, and pointed over to the corner from which the mask of Zingarella, with the dim light falling on it, shone forth like the weirdly beautiful face of a spectre.

Philippina stood before the door, and listened to what they were saying. She had caught a rat, killed it, and laid the cadaver in the door. The next morning, as Eleanore was going into the [316]kitchen, she saw the dead rat, screamed, and went back to her room trembling with fright.

Daniel stroked her hair, and said: “Don’t worry, Eleanore. Rats belong to married life just as truly as salty soup, broken dishes, and holes in the stockings.”

“Now listen, Daniel, is that meant as a reproach?” she asked.

“No, my dear, it is not a reproach; it is merely a picture of the world. You have the soul of a princess; you know nothing about rats. Look at those black, staring, pearly eyes: they remind me of Jason Philip Schimmelweis and Alfons Diruf and Alexander Dörmaul; they remind me of the reserved table, the Kaffeeklatsch, smelly feet, evenings at the club, and everything else that is unappetising, vulgar, and base. Don’t look at me in such astonishment, Eleanore, I have just had an ugly dream; that is all. I dreamt that a miserable-looking wretch came up to me and kept asking me what your name is, and I couldn’t tell him. Just think of it: I could not recall your name. It was terribly annoying. Farewell, farewell.”

He had put on his hat and left. He ran out in the direction of Feucht, and stayed the entire day in the open fields without taking a single bit of nourishment except a piece of black bread and a glass of milk. But when he returned in the evening his pockets were bulging with notes he had jotted down while out there by himself.

He came back by way of the Castle, and knocked at Eberhard’s door. Since there was no one at home, he sauntered around for a while along the old rampart, and then returned about nine o’clock. But the windows were still dark.

He had not seen Eberhard for two months. He could still recall the Baron’s depression and worry the last time he had talked with him—it was toward the end of March: he had spoken very little at that time and had gazed into space with remarkably lifeless eyes. He gave the impression of a man who is on the point of doing something quite out of the ordinary if not distinctly terrible.

Daniel did not become aware of this until now; the Baron’s troubles, whatever they were, had not occurred to him during the past weeks; he was sorry for having neglected him so.

XVII

When he came home Eleanore was suffering from premature birth pains. Philippina greeted him with the words: “There is [317]going to be an increase in the family, Daniel.” Whereat she burst out in a coarse laugh.

“Shut up, you beast,” cried Daniel: “How long has she been suffering? Why didn’t you get the nurse?”

“Can I leave the child here alone? Don’t growl so!” replied Philippina angrily. She went out for the nurse. In a half an hour she came back with her: it was Frau Hadebusch.

Daniel had a disagreeable feeling. He wanted to raise some questions and make some objections, but Frau Hadebusch’s nimble tongue anticipated him. She grinned, curtsied, rolled her eyes, and went through the entire category of acquired mannerisms on the part of a woman of her type, and then unloaded her life history: Her duly wedded husband had said farewell to this vale of tears three years ago, and since then she had been supporting, as well as she could, herself and her poor Henry, the idiot, by hiring out as a midwife. She seemed already to have come to an understanding with Eleanore, for when she entered the room, Eleanore greeted her as though she were an old acquaintance.

While Daniel was alone with Eleanore for a few minutes, he asked her in an indignant tone: “How did you ever come to get that vicious woman?”

Eleanore replied in a gentle and unsuspecting tone: “She came to me one day, and asked to be called in when the child was born. She said she was awfully fond of you, and that you had once lived in her house. Well, I thought, what difference does it make who comes, so I engaged her, and there she is.”

It was only with the greatest difficulty that she finished saying what was on her mind. Her face, white as a sheet, was pinched with an expression of terrific pain. She reached for Daniel’s hand, and held it so tightly that he became rigid with anxiety.

When she began to groan, Daniel turned away and pressed his fists together. Frau Hadebusch came in with a tub of hot water: “This is no place for men,” she exclaimed with a kindly twisting of her face, took Daniel by the shoulder, and pushed him out the door.

Little Agnes was standing in the hall. “Father,” she said.

“Put that child to bed!” said Daniel, turning to Philippina.

Jordan came out of the kitchen. He held an earthen bowl of soup in his hand. It had been saved for him, and all he had to do was to hold it over the fire and heat it up. He went up to [318]Daniel, and said, as his chin quivered: “May God protect her, and be merciful to her!”

“Quit that kind of talk, Father,” said Daniel impatiently. “God rules with reservations that make me insane.”

“Won’t you say good-night to little Agnes?” asked Philippina in a rude, rough tone from the other room.

He went in; the child looked at him timidly. The more it grew, the greater his own shyness became in its presence. And the constant association of Eleanore with the child had always been a source of worry to him. There was one thing of which he was mortally certain: he could not see Eleanore in bodily form and precisely as she was, when Agnes, with her Gertrude eyes and her arched Eleanore mouth, was present in the room with Eleanore. He felt that Eleanore had been transformed into the sister of Agnes, that she was still only a sister. And this he felt was something fatal.

Both of the sisters looked at him out of Agnes’s big childish eyes; in her they were both melted and moulded into a single being. A presageful horror crept over him. Sisters! The word had a solemn sound in his ears; it seemed full of mysterious meaning; it took on mythical greatness.

“Sleep, baby, sleep, outside are two sheep, a black one and a white one ...” sang Philippina in her imbecile way. It was astonishing the amount of malevolence there was in her sing-song.

Daniel could not stand it in the house; he went out on the street, and wandered around until midnight. If he made up his mind to go home, the thought occurred to him at once that Frau Hadebusch would prevent him from going into Eleanore’s room. He felt like lying down on the pavement and waiting until some one came and told him how Eleanore was getting along.

XVIII

It struck one just as he came home. The maid from the first floor and the maid from the second were standing on the stairs. They had not been able to sleep; they had heard the cries of the young woman from their rooms, had come out, joined each other, listened, trembled, and whispered.

Daniel heard one of them say: “The Kapellmeister should send for the doctor.”

The other sobbed and replied: “Yes, but a doctor can’t work miracles.”

[319]

“Lord, Lord,” they cried, as a nerve-racking cry from Eleanore rang through the bleak house.

Daniel sprang up the steps. “Run for Dr. Müller just as fast as your feet can carry you,” said Daniel to Philippina, who was then standing in the kitchen in her bare feet with her hair hanging down her back. Daniel was breathing heavily; Philippina was making some tea. Daniel then hastened into Eleanore’s room; Frau Hadebusch tried to keep him out, but he pushed her to one side, gritted his teeth, and threw himself on the floor by Eleanore’s bed.

She raised her head; she was a pale as death; the perspiration was pouring down over her face. “You shouldn’t be here, Daniel, you shouldn’t see me,” she said with much effort, but her tone was so commanding and final that Daniel got up and slowly left the room. He was seized with a strange, violent anger. He went out into the kitchen and drank a glass of water, and then hurled the glass on the floor: it broke into a hundred pieces.

Frau Hadebusch had followed him; she looked very much discouraged. When he noticed the frame of mind she was in, he became dizzy; he had to sit down in order to keep from falling. “Ah, the doctor will come,” he said in a brusque tone.

“My God, it makes you sick at the stomach to see how women suffer to-day,” said the old lady in her shrillest, one-tooth voice; it was quite plain that she was pleased to know that the doctor was coming. The present case had got her into serious trouble, and she wanted to get out of it. “The devil to these women who are so delicately built,” she had said about an hour ago to the grinning Philippina.

Philippina came back with the announcement that Dr. Müller was on a vacation: “Well, is he the only physician in the city, you dumb ox?” howled Daniel, “go get Dr. Dingolfinger; he lives here close by: right over there by the Peller House. But wait a minute! You stay here; I’ll go get him.”

Dr. Dingolfinger was a Jewish physician, a rather old man, and Daniel had to ring and ring to get him out of his bed. But finally he heard the bell, got up, and followed Daniel across the square. Daniel had left the lantern burning at the front gate, and with it he lighted the doctor through the court and up the stairs.

Then he sat down on the bench in the kitchen; how long he sat there he did not know; he bent his body forward and buried his head in his hands. The screams became worse and worse: they were no longer the cries of Eleanore but of some unsouled, [320]dehumanised being. Daniel heard them all; he could think of nothing, he could feel nothing but that voice. At times the terrible cry ran through his heart: Sisters! Sisters!

Frau Hadebusch came out several times to get hot water. The yellow tooth in her lower jaw stuck out like a cracked, lecherous remainder and reminder of her past life. Once Dr. Dingolfinger himself came out, rummaged around in his leather case, which he had left in the hall, looked at Daniel, and said: “It is going to come out all right; it will all be over in a short while.” At that Philippina poked at the fire, and put on fresh coals. She looked at Daniel out of one corner of her eye, and went on her way. From time to time old Jordan rapped on the wall to have Philippina come up and tell him how things were going.

It must have been about four o’clock in the morning; the gloomy, grey stones in the walls of the court yard were already being covered with rosy tints from the East. There was a cry so fearful, so like that of a voice from the wilds of the heart, that Daniel sprang to his feet and stood trembling in every limb.

Then it became quiet, mysteriously, uncannily quiet.

XIX

He sat down again; after a while his eyes closed, and he fell asleep.

He must have slept about half an hour when he was wakened by the sound of footsteps.

Standing around him were the physician, Frau Hadebusch, and Philippina. The doctor said something at which Daniel shook his head. It sounded like: “Unfortunately I cannot keep the sad news from you.” Daniel did not understand him; he drew his lips apart, and thought: “The idea of dreaming such disordered stuff!”

“Mother and child are both dead,” said the old physician, with tears in his eyes. “Both dead. It was a boy. Science was powerless; nature was hostile and the stronger of the two.”

“So delicately built,” murmured Frau Hadebusch, in a tone of disapproval, “as delicate as the stem of a plant.”

When Daniel at last realised that he was not dreaming, that these were in bitter truth Philippina’s glistening eyes and Frau Hadebusch’s goatish tooth and Dr. Dingolfinger’s silvery beard, and that these were actual words that were being spoken to him, he fell over and became unconscious.

[321]

XX

Pain, grief, despair, such terms do not describe his condition.

He knew nothing about himself; he had no thoughts; he lay on the sofa in the living room day and night, ate nothing, said nothing, and never moved.

When they carried the empty coffin into the death chamber, he burrowed his face into the corner of the sofa. Old Jordan tottered through the room to take a last look at his dead daughter. “He has sinned,” Jordan sobbed, “sinned against God in Heaven.”

In the hall some people were whispering. Martha Rübsam and her husband had come in. Martha was crying. Her slender figure with her pale face appeared in the doorway; she looked around for Daniel.

“Don’t you want to see your Eleanore before the coffin is closed?” asked Philippina in a hollow voice.

He never moved; the twitchings of his face were terrible to behold.

Beside him on the table was some cold food; also some bread and apples.

They carried the coffin out. He felt that where his heart once was there was now a dark, empty space. The church bell rang, the rain splashed against the window panes.

During the second night he felt his soul suddenly become incoherent, lax. This was followed by a brief flaring up within him, whereupon his eyes were filled with hot, burning tears. He resigned himself to the situation without audible display of grief; he felt all of a sudden that he had now for the first time in his life really sensed the beauty of the pure triad in the major key.

Another day passed by. He could hear old Jordan walking about in the room above him, ceaselessly and with heavy tread. He felt cold; Philippina came in; he asked her to get him a blanket. Philippina was most eager to be of service to him. The door bell rang; Philippina opened.

Before her stood a lady and a gentleman. There was something so refined about them that Philippina did not dare raise any objections when they quietly came in and went straight to the living room: the door had not been closed, and they could see Daniel lying on the sofa.

Daniel looked at them quite indifferently. Gradually he began to collect his thoughts, to compose himself, to come to himself.

[322]

His guests were Eberhard von Auffenberg and his cousin, Sylvia von Erfft. They were betrothed.

Taken up as he had latterly been with the marked changes and transformations in his life, Eberhard had not heard of the death of Eleanore until a few hours ago.

It was a rare visit. None of the three said a word. Daniel lay wrapped in his blanket; he never moved. Finally, when his friends were about to leave, Sylvia got up, and turning to Daniel, said: “I did not know Eleanore, but I feel as if I had lost one of my own dear friends.”

Eberhard tossed his chin in the air, turned pale, and was as silent as the tomb.

They repeated their visit on the following day, and then on the next day, and so on. The presence of the two people came in time to have a beneficent effect on Daniel.

[323]THE ROOM WITH THE WITHERED FLOWERS

I

A few days later, Herr Carovius carried out the scheme he had decided upon at the time his heart became so embittered at Eleanore’s marriage.

It was the end of March. Herr Carovius had learned that the old Baron had just returned from Berlin. He went around to his house, and sent in his card. The butler came out, and told him that the Baron could receive no one, that he should state his business in writing.

Herr Carovius, however, wanted to see his debtor face to face: this was the heart of his dream. When he came back a second time and was again told that he could not see the Baron, he began to storm and bluster, and insisted that they should at least let him talk with the Baroness.

The Baroness was just then taking her music lesson. The fifteen-year-old Dorothea Döderlein, who gave promise of developing into a remarkable virtuoso on the violin, was playing some sonatas with the Baroness.

Andreas Döderlein had recognised her talents when she was a mere child. Since her tenth year, she had been obliged to practise six hours every day. She had had a great number of different teachers, all of whom had been brought to the point of despair by her intractability. In the presence of her father, however, she was meek: to him she bowed.

Andreas Döderlein had recommended his daughter to the Baroness in words replete with objective recognition. The Baroness declared her willingness to play with Dorothea. Andreas Döderlein had said to her: “Now you have a chance to rise in the world through powerful influence; don’t neglect it! The Baroness loves the emotional; be emotional. At times she will demand the demoniac; be obedient. Like all rich people, she is pampering some grief de luxe; don’t disturb her!”

Dorothea was docile.

They were playing Beethoven’s spring sonatas, when the altercation began out in the vestibule. The maid came in and whispered [324]something to her mistress. The Baroness arose and went to the door. Dorothea laid her violin in her lap, and looked around in affected astonishment, as though she were coming out of a dream.

At a sign from the Baroness the old servant gave Herr Carovius a free path. He went in: his face was red; he made a quite ridiculous bow. His eyes drank in the velvet portières, the cut glass mirrors, the crystal vases, and the bronze statuettes. In the meantime, and without fail, he had placed his right hand against his hip, giving the fine effect of right akimbo, and set one foot very elegantly a trifle more to the fore than the other: he looked like a provincial dancing-master.

He complained of the presumptuousness of the servants, and assured the Baroness that she was in complete enjoyment of his deference. He spoke of his good intentions and the pressure of circumstances. When the impatient bearing of his sole but distinguished auditor at last obliged him to come to the real purpose of his visit, the Baroness twitched; for from his flood of words there emerged, as she heard them, nothing but the name of her son.

With panting sounds she came up to Herr Carovius, and took him by the coat-sleeve. Her dim, black eyes became as round as little bullets; the supplicating expression in them was so much balm to the soul of her visitor.

Herr Carovius was enchanted; he was having the time of a scurvy life; he became impudent; he wanted to take vengeance on the mother against the son. He saw that the Baroness did not correspond to the picture he had made of a creature who belonged to the aristocracy. In his imagination she had lived as a domineering, imperious, inaccessible phenomenon: and now there stood before him an old, obese, worried woman. On this account he gave his voice a shriller tone, his face a more scurrilous expression than was his wont. Then he launched forth on a graphic narration of the unhappy plight in which he now found himself as a result of his association with Baron von Eberhard, Jr.

He claimed that it was nothing but his own good nature that had got him into this trouble. And yet, what was he to do? The Baron would have starved to death, or become morally depraved, if he had not come to his spiritual and pecuniary rescue, for the young man was sadly wanting in the powers of moral resistance. And what had he gained by all this altruism? Ingratitude, bitter ingratitude!

“He plundered me; he took my last cent, and then acted as if [325]it were my damned duty to go through fire for his baronical excellency,” screamed Herr Carovius. “Before I came to know him I was a well-to-do man; I could enjoy myself; I could reap the higher pleasures of human existence. To-day I am ruined. My money is wasted, my house is burdened with mortgages, my peace of mind has gone plumb to the Devil. Two hundred and seventy-six thousand marks is what the young man owes me and my business friends. Yes—two hundred and seventy-six thousand marks, including interest and interest on the interest, all neatly noted down and signed up by the duly authorised parties. Am I to let him slam the door in my face because of his indebtedness to me? I think you will see yourself that that cannot be expected of me. He at least owes me a little respect for what I have done for him.”

The Baroness had listened to all this with folded hands and unfixed eyes. But the close of the story was too much for her: she threw herself on a great divan, overcome—for the time being—with worry and maternal weakness. A grin strayed across Herr Carovius’s face. He twirled his Calabrian headpiece in his hands, and let his leery eyes wander about the walls. Then it was that he caught sight of Dorothea, whom he had thus far failed to see in his intoxication of wrath and rapture.

When Herr Carovius entered, Dorothea, out of discretion rather than with serious intent, had made herself as small as possible in the most remote corner of the room. Trembling with curious excitement, she had wished to evade the eye of her uncle Carovius, for in very truth she was ashamed of him.

She regarded him as a sort of comic freak, who, though he had enough to live on, could not be said to be in the best of circumstances. When he rolled the sum the Auffenberg family owed him from his tongue, she was filled with astonishment and delight, and from then on she took a totally different view of him.

During the last few years Herr Carovius had seen very little of Dorothea. Whenever he had met her, she had passed by him in great haste. He knew that she was taking violin lessons: he had often heard her screechy fiddling on the stairs and out in the hall.

He fixed his eyes on her, and exclaimed: “Well I’m a son-of-a-gun if there isn’t Döderlein’s daughter! How did you get here? Aha, you are going about and showing the people what you can do! I should think you and your creator would have had enough of music by this time.”

The Baroness, recalling that the young girl was present, raised [326]her eyes and looked at Dorothea reproachfully. For the first time in her life she felt that the resources she had managed to extract from a life of neglect were about exhausted; for the first time in her life she felt a shudder at the thought of her musical stupefactions.

She asked Herr Carovius to have patience, adding that he would hear from her in a few days—as soon as she had talked the matter over with her husband. She nipped in the bud a zealous reply he was about to make, and nodded a momentary farewell to Dorothea, who put her violin in the case, took the case in her hand, curtsied, and followed her uncle out of the room.

She remained at his side; they went along the street together. Herr Carovius turned to her from time to time, and made some rancorous remark. She smiled modestly.

With that began the strange relation that existed between the two from then on.

II

It had looked for some time as though the Baron von Auffenberg had retired from the political stage. In circles in which he had formerly been held in unqualified esteem he was now regarded as a fallen hero.

His friends traced the cause of his failure to the incessant friction from which the party had suffered; to the widespread change that was taking place in the public mind; to the ever-increasing pressure from above and the never-ceasing fermentation from below; to the feverish restlessness that had come over the body politic, changing its form, its ideals, and its convictions; and to the more scrupulous and sometimes reactionary stand that was being taken on all matters of national culture.

But this could not explain the hard trace of repulsion and aversion which the Baron’s countenance had never before revealed when in the presence of men; it threw no light, or at most an inadequate light, on the stony glare, gloomy impatience, and reticence which he practised now even in those circles and under those circumstances in which he had formerly been noted for his diverting talents as a conversationalist and companion.

In his heart of hearts he had, as a matter of fact, always despised his political constituents, their speeches, their action, their enthusiasm, and their indignation. But he had never kicked over the traces, for during the course of a rather eventful life he had made [327]the discovery that contempt and an icy disposition are invaluable adjuncts to any one who wishes to control men.

Even though he had fought at the beginning of his career with all the eloquence and buoyancy at his command for freedom and tolerance, it remained a fact that he regarded liberalism as nothing more than a newspaper term, a means of keeping men busy who were too indolent to think for themselves, and a source of obstructive annoyance to the openly hated but secretly admired Bismarck.

He had wielded a power in full consciousness of the lie he was acting, and had done it solely by gestures, calculations, and political adroitness. This will do for a while, but in time it eats into the marrow of one’s life.

In his eyes nothing was of value except the law, unwritten to be sure, but of immemorial duration, that subjects the little to the big, the weak to the strong, the immature to the experienced, the poor to the rich. In accordance with this law humanity for him was divided into two camps: those who submitted to the law, and the undesirable citizens who rebelled against the law.

And of these undesirable citizens his son Eberhard was the most undesirable.

With this stinging, painful thorn in his flesh, oppressed by the feeling of loneliness in the very midst of a noisy, fraudulent activity, and filled with an ever-increasing detestation of the superfluity and consequent effeminacy of his daily existence, he had created out of the figure of his son a picture of evil incarnate.

He visualised him in dissipation and depravity of every kind and degree; he saw him sinking lower and lower, a traitor to his family name; as if in a dream that appeases the sense of obscene horror, he saw him in league with the abandoned and proscribed, associating with thieves, street bandits, high-flying swindlers, counterfeiters, anarchists, prostitutes, and literati. He saw him in dirty dives, a fugitive from justice wandering along the highway, drunk in a gambling den, a beggar at a fair, and a prisoner at the bar.

His determination to wait until the degenerate representative of the human family had been stigmatised by all the world he finally abandoned. His impatience to find peace, to throw off the mask, to rid himself completely of all entanglements, dissimulation, and the life of luxury to which he had been accustomed became so great, that he looked forward to the day that would eventually mark his release as the day of a new birth.

But why did he hesitate? Was there still an element of doubt in his breast? Was there still slumbering, deep down in the [328]regions of his heart that were inaccessible to bitterness and revenge, another picture of his son? Why did he hesitate from week to week, from month to month?

In the meantime he had donated great fortunes to poor houses, hospitals, foundations, and similar causes. He wanted to give away other millions, at least so much that his heirs would receive only the gleanings of what had once been a field of riches. Emilia was to be given the income from the breweries and the country estates.

To this extent he had firmly made up his mind. Now that his wife had told him of the actual condition in which Eberhard found himself, he felt justified in going ahead and carrying out his pre-determined plans. The proofs of dishonourable conduct on the part of his son could now be brought forward. The debts he had contracted, either through flippancy or downright deception, in the name of his father were sufficient to condemn him forever. And if not, then let them fight it out after he was dead and gone; let his last will and testament be a ghost, a spectre that would strike terror into their hearts and embitter such pleasure as they might otherwise derive from life.

His will had been drawn up seven years ago; all that was needed was the signature of the notary public.

But why did the Baron hesitate? Why did he pace back and forth in his room with pinched lips? Why did he ring for the butler with the idea of sending this functionary for the notary, and then suddenly change his mind and give the butler something else to do?

“Dépêche-toi, mon bon garçon,” screeched the parrot.

III

In the course of three days the Baroness had five talks with her husband. Each time he rejected her petition to have the affairs of their son straightened out; and when she became insistent and seemed minded to keep up her fight, he became silent, speechless.

It was during her last attempt that the servants heard her speaking with extraordinary passion and violence. When she left the Baron’s room her whole body was quivering with emotion and excitement. She came out, and ordered the house servants to pack her trunk and her coachman to be ready to leave in a few minutes.

[329]

An hour later she was on her way to the estate at Siegmundshof, about ten miles from the baronial residence. Her maid accompanied her. But she was utterly unable to find peace there. During the day she would pace back and forth through the rooms, crying and wringing her hands; at night she would lie down, but not to sleep. On the fourth day she returned to the city, had the carriage driven to the residence of Count Urlich, and sent her coachman in to get the Countess. Emilia came down, terrified, to know what her mother wanted. The Baroness told her that she wished her to accompany her to Herr Carovius, whose address she had found in the city directory.

Herr Carovius had waited in vain for the news the Baroness had promised him. His anger got the best of him: he decided to make an example of the Auffenberg family, and, with this end in view, entered their house as the personal embodiment of punitive justice. When he was told that he could not be admitted, he began once more to start trouble; he raged and stormed like a madman. The servants came running out from all quarters; finally a policeman appeared on the scene and questioned him. The porter then dragged him from the house and out through the big gate at the entrance to the grounds, where he stood surrounded by a crowd of curious but not entirely disinterested people, bare-headed, waving his arms and striking an imaginary adversary with his fists—a picture, all told, of anger intensified to the point of insanity.

His backers at once got wind of his fruitless attempts to collect. They became uneasy, gave Herr Carovius himself a deal of trouble, and finally appointed a lawyer to take charge of the case. In the meantime Herr Carovius had learned through a spy that it had come to a complete break between the Baron and the Baroness, that the latter had left within two days with bag and baggage, and that great consternation prevailed among the servants and friends of the family.

A voluptuous light crept across Herr Carovius’s face: here was defeat and despair, weeping and gnashing of teeth; what more could he wish? He felt that he was personally the annihilator of the collective aristocracy. And if it is possible to take a fiendish delight in witnessing the destruction of what one after all despises, how much greater may this joy be when the thing destroyed is something one loves and admires!

It was while in this mood that the Baroness and her daughter came to see him. The sight of the two women left him momentarily [330]speechless. He forgot to say good-day to them; to ask them in never once occurred to him.

The Baroness wanted to know where Eberhard was: she was determined to see him. When Herr Carovius stuttered out the astounding information to her that he was living hardly more than three hundred paces from where she was then standing, she began to tremble and leaned against the wall. She was not prepared for this: she had always imagined that he was staying at some mysterious place in some mysterious distance.

Herr Carovius at once insisted that he accompany the ladies to the Baron’s diminutive residence. But the Baroness felt that she was not capable of this: she feared it would mean her death. “Take me home with you, Emilia,” she said to her daughter, “and you go over and have a talk with Eberhard first.”

But Emilia had not seen Eberhard once during the nine years of her married life, and was even less inclined than her mother to meet him now. Nor was it possible to take the Baroness to her home. The old lady had evidently forgotten that she had told Count Urlich never to show his face in her presence again. The occasion of this inexorable request was the time she learned that the governess of his child was in a family way and that he was responsible for her disgrace.

Since the Baroness stoutly refused to return either to her town residence or to Siegmundshof, there was nothing for Emilia to do but to take her to a hotel. Herr Carovius, who had accompanied the two women on the street and had enjoyed to the full their pitiable distress, suggested that they go to the Bavarian Court. He climbed up on the seat by the coachman, told him how to get there, and looked down in regal triumph on the pedestrians.

Countess Emilia, quite at her wits’ end, sent a telegram to her Aunt Agatha. The next Wednesday Frau von Erfft with her daughter Sylvia arrived. “Clotilda acts as if she had lost her mind,” she said to Emilia after having spent an hour in the room with her sister. “I am going to see your father. I must have a long talk with Siegmund.”

The Baron received his sister-in-law with marked coolness, though he had always had a great deal of respect for her.

Frau von Erfft was quite careful to avoid any reference to the family affairs. She talked about Sylvia, remarking that she was now twenty-seven years old, and that she had rejected all her suitors, a fact which was causing her parents a measure of concern. “She simply will not be contented,” said Frau Agatha. “She is [331]bent on securing a special mission in her marriage, and fears nothing so much as the loss of her personal liberty. That is the way our children are, dear Siegmund; and if we had brought them into the world differently, they would be different. In our day the ideal was obedience; but now children have discovered the duty they owe themselves.”

“Then they should look out for themselves,” replied the Baron gloomily. He had fully appreciated what his sister-in-law was driving at.

From the confused and incoherent remarks of her sister, Agatha had learned what had taken place between the Baron and the Baroness. She was familiar with the painful past; and when she looked into the old Baron’s eyes, she saw what was necessary. She made up her mind then and there to have Eberhard meet his mother.

She wished above everything else to quiet Clotilda and persuade her to return home. The task, owing to the weakness and instability of the Baroness, was not difficult. Sylvia remained with her aunt, and her quiet, resolute disposition had a wholesome effect upon her. In the meantime Agatha had got Eberhard’s address. After some search she found the house: Eberhard was at home.

IV

The first talk she had with him passed off without results of any kind. He evaded her courageous remarks, and failed to hear what he did not care to hear. He was stiff, polite, and annoyingly listless. Agatha, full of vexation, told her daughter of her disappointment. Sylvia said she would like to go with her mother the next time she visited Eberhard. Agatha shook her head, though she was in no way minded to abandon her purpose.

There was no change at the Baron’s house. Baroness Clotilda was in a perpetual state of nervous excitement that was anything but reassuring either to herself or those about her. The Baron was a disquieting riddle to the entire household: he never left his room; he paced up and down hours at a time, with his hands folded across his back.

Agatha called on her nephew a second, a third, a fourth time. Even though Eberhard’s Arctic impenetrability seemed made for all time, though yielding seemed to be no part of his nature, she finally succeeded in jolting him loose from his bearings. And when Sylvia accompanied her mother—Sylvia generally won her [332]point with her mother—he shook off his armour with unexpected suddenness; you could see the struggles that were going on in his soul.

Falteringly, and in the affected and finical tone he not infrequently adopted, he told the story of his youth, commenting on the everlasting discord between his father and his mother and the disagreeable quarrels that used to take place at home. He said that just as soon as his mother would ask that something be done, his father would demand the opposite. The children soon saw that father was going his way and mother hers; they were not unaware of the fact that their parents cordially distrusted each other and even went so far as to lay traps for each other. He insisted that his mother, with all her amiability and gentleness, was obsessed with the idea of teasing, annoying, and wounding his father on that very point where she had already and so often teased, annoyed, and wounded him before; and that this lack of reason and consideration on her part, coupled with the absence of kindness and candour on his, had made the paternal home a hell, torn at the hearts of the growing children, and in time so hardened them that they suspected every friendly face they saw, and withdrew, as if so from something vile, from every hand that was reached out to them. He related further that in this loveless wilderness brother and sister had been drawn to each other, that in Emilia’s heart, and his own as well, this mutual friendship was cherished as a sacred, inviolable possession, so sacred that it impelled them in time to establish a league against all the rest of the world. How did they conduct themselves once this league had been founded? If they read a book it was in common; they kept no secrets from each other, advised each other, and shared their happiness and sorrow equally, until one fine day Emilia’s father appeared before her, and informed her that Count Urlich had asked for her hand and that he had promised that he should have it.

At this point in the story, Eberhard became silent; he bit his lips; his ashen face, that had never before reminded Agatha so much of the old Baron, betrayed an incurable grief.

Agatha was familiar with this incident, in rough outline; but as Eberhard related it, it stirred her soul to the very depths. “One must try to forget,” she said.

“Forget? No, that I cannot do; never have been able to do. Be it a matter of virtue or of vice, I cannot forget. Emilia, then still half child and only half woman, was made flexible in time. But that my mother did not do everything in her power to prevent [333]this gruesome deed, and that it caused her to sink deeper and deeper into the coils of domestic anguish by reason of her innate and gnawing weakness—that was the bitterest experience of my entire life.”

“But she is your mother, Eberhard. Never in the history of the human family has a son had the right to condemn his mother.”

“That is news to me,” replied Eberhard coldly. “Mothers are human beings like any one else. Even mothers can commit a sin by filling their children with the poison of distrust and disgust with life. Father and mother, parents: they are a symbol, a glorious one when they hover above us and around us, worthy of respect and calling for filial veneration. But if I am bound to them only by the ties of duty, they are not symbols; they are mere phantoms, conceptions of human speech. There is no duty but the duty of love.”

Sylvia had sat in perfect silence. Unconsciously she had followed the most beautiful law of harmonious souls: to wield an influence, to have power, not through the use of words and the elaboration of reasons, but by a pure life, an unquestioned existence. Agreement and disagreement lay like a play of light and shadow on her brow.

In this way she reminded Eberhard more and more of Eleanore.

Perhaps it was the power of this memory that moved him to promise that he would go with Agatha on the following day to his mother. The sole condition he imposed was that he be assured that he would not meet his father.

Seeing that he was relentless in this request, Frau von Erfft conceded it, though she had a reassuring premonition that the events and the hour would be stronger than will and purpose.

V

On entering his mother’s boudoir, Eberhard’s eyes fell at once on the alabaster clock, the face of which was supported by three figures representing the daughters of time. In his childhood days the clock had always had a highly poetic meaning to him: it seemed to symbolise the fulfilment of his most ardent wishes.

The Baroness had been prepared for his coming by her sister. While Eberhard and Sylvia had been standing in the corner room waiting, a few of the servants had gathered at the door, where they whispered to each other timidly.

Eberhard went up to his mother and kissed her hand. The [334]Baroness’s face was the colour of lead; her eyes were opened as wide as possible, and yet she seemed hardly conscious. Emilia stood at one side; her hands were pressed to her bosom, her fingers were twitching convulsively.

Frau Agatha endeavoured to relieve the situation of its solemnity and unnaturalness by making a few humorous remarks about Eberhard’s hiding place on the hill by the Castle. Baroness Clotilda looked at her son in anxious and uneasy suspense: “I scarcely recognise him,” she said with a hoarse voice, “he has changed so.”

“You have changed, too, Mother,” said Eberhard, as his chin sought refuge between the lapels of his coat. He was as stiff as a poker. Agatha looked at him full of vexation and annoyance. He acted as though he were being bored by the meeting.

But it was only a mask. As he looked at the old, indistinct, tired, bullied face, he became conscious of his mistake: he felt that he was wrong in saying that “Mothers are also human beings.” He saw at once that amends had to be made, that action was necessary; he felt that his next step would lead to inevitable self-contempt if he neglected the moral deed of repentance.

As he struggled with himself and stared, as if paralysed, into the rebellion of his own soul, a certain pair of eyes had forced their way behind the seeming apathy. A sudden blush came to Sylvia’s cheeks: she went up to her cousin, and took him by the hand. He quivered; he saw at once that she had divined what was going on in his soul, and now she was determined to bring his fight to a close, a final, definite close. She took him out of the room; he followed her; she led him through the dining room, the reception room, the smoking room, the library, and on to his father’s room. Agatha, Emilia, and the Baroness looked at each other in amazement. They went to the door of the room, and listened in breathless suspense.

Sylvia opened the door rather boldly. The old Baron was sitting on the leather chair before the stove. His legs were wrapped in a blanket; the expression on his face was of stony coldness.

Hardly had he noticed the two when he sprang to his feet as if the lightning had struck close by him. He shook; he faltered; he groped about for a physical support; and from his throat there came a stifled gurgle. That was all.

Eberhard walked over to him, and reached out his hand.

For a moment it seemed as if the old man would collapse. A last flash of hatred and revenge shot from his blue eyes; then he [335]too reached out his hand. His arm trembled; thick knots of quivering muscles formed on his cheeks. Sylvia had gently closed the door and vanished.

Anxious minutes passed by and nothing happened, except that each held the hand of the other and each looked into the eyes of the other. The silence was broken only by the crackling of the fire in the stove.

“Just at the right time,” murmured the old Baron, without looking up and as if lost in meditation, “just at the right time.”

Eberhard made no reply. He stood as still, as motionless, as silent, and with his heels as close together as if he were a young officer facing his superior in command.

After a while he wheeled about and slowly left the room.

Sylvia was waiting in the library. In the twilight it was possible to see only the vague outline of her body.

Eberhard took hold of her and whispered: “I really believe that I no longer have a father.”

VI

That same night the old Baron had left. He got up in the middle of the night; at four o’clock his valet accompanied him to the station.

The next morning two letters were found lying on his writing desk: one was addressed to Eberhard, the other to the Baroness. The latter contained nothing more than a few words of farewell. The former was more detailed. It expressed the Baron’s satisfaction at the fact that Eberhard, whom he welcomed as the head of the house, had returned, and plainly indicated that all the necessary legal steps would be taken in a very short while to give him complete authority as his heir and successor. The letter closed with this surprising sentence: “So far as I am personally concerned, I am planning to enter the Catholic Church, in order to spend the remainder of my misapplied life at Viterbo in the Dominican Convent of Della Guercia.”

There was no explanation, no unusual display of feeling, no confession, nothing but the naked fact.

The Baroness was neither surprised nor shocked. She fell into a mute, melancholy brooding, and then said: “He never was happy, never in his whole life. I never heard him laugh a really whole-souled laugh; and living with him has made me forget how to laugh myself. His heart has been from time immemorial a sort [336]of convent, an abode of darkness, a place of sternness. He has found his way home at last, and is probably tired from the long journey on the way to his soul.”

“Nonsense, Clotilda!” cried Frau von Erfft. “What you say about his laughing may be true, and a man who cannot laugh is half animal. But do you mean to tell me that an intelligent man must resort to such means to find peace with himself and his God? A man who is under obligations to set an example for others? Is there not enough darkness in men’s heads already? Is it necessary to put out the torches of those who stand guard? My sense of pardon is not so elaborate. I prefer to be a child of the world and associate with those who are regarded as heathens, and who have given us works of light and illumination.”

At these words Eberhard entered. As she looked into his face, Frau von Erfft thought: “There is another who can’t laugh.”

The Baron’s change of religious views caused the greatest excitement throughout the entire country. The liberal newspapers published fulminatory articles; flaming protests were made in the clubs against the surreptitious propaganda of Rome. The ultramontane party leaders rejoiced and made capital out of the marvellous return of such a sceptic to the bosom of the Church which alone can save the souls of men: they used the case as a bait for fresh recruits and as a means to fill the old regulars with greater fire and enthusiasm. Through the homes blew a breath of a tyrannical priesthood and spiritual gagging.

Eberhard adapted himself to his changed condition quickly and with but little apparent effort: the chaos of opinions left him virtually unmoved. To become the master of so much and so many people, and to do it so suddenly, necessitated dignity, a clear eye, and a firm hand. His being was in no danger from an excess of zeal or up-start conceit, suffer though he might from too great seriousness and his preference for a place in the shadow. Strangely enough, the abundance of his responsibilities made him more cheerful. And where he was unable to take his part in the world of outward unrest, Sylvia’s influence interceded and made it possible for him to do what was expected of him.

In May he accompanied her and her mother to Erfft. There they took long walks together every day, and talked a great deal about Eleanore. At first he spoke with noticeable reserve. But when he felt that he had gained the confidence of his auditor, and she his, he spoke quite candidly, so candidly in truth that Sylvia came to look upon his action as one of inner liberation.

[337]

When he told of Eleanore’s marriage to Daniel Nothafft, Sylvia interrupted him, and asked a number of questions concerning Daniel. “Oh, yes, he was our guest once; he is the Kapellmeister,” she said. And then she told him all about Daniel’s visit at Erfft, and did it with a smile in which there were both indulgence and re-awakened astonishment.

Her smile made the same appeal to Eberhard that Eleanore’s had. And yet, when he was in Sylvia’s company, he seemed to recognise more distinctly than ever what had drawn him with such irresistible power to Eleanore, possibly because Sylvia was of a less ardent and forceful nature. He could not exactly express it in words; he merely felt that it was the unknown realm of tones, the unknown melting of melodies, the ringing order of the music transformed into soul.

At the beginning of June, Sylvia went back to Nuremberg with Eberhard and her parents. A few days later the betrothal took place in the baronial residence.

VII

Herr Carovius had been paid. The consortium of silent backers had been dissolved.

Never in the history of finance had there been a satisfied creditor who was so unhappy as Herr Carovius. He was without a goal, and the sign posts had been destroyed. He had received his money; so far so good. His share of the profit was something over sixty thousand marks. But what was this in comparison with the great noise? What comparison was there between living in ease and the gorgeous sight of falling stars? What attraction could the world offer him after this hopeful affair, which had begun as a tragedy, and had increased in interest and suspense until one was justified in believing that all the contradictory forces in human nature were going to collide with one mighty bang, when, in reality, the whole incident flattened out into an ordinary drama of emotion, with the curtain going down on reconciliation all around?

But this was not the sole reason why Herr Carovius, up until this time a most elastic figure, one of those imperturbable bachelors for whom no hurdle was too high, suddenly felt that he was growing old. His soul was filled with unrest; he was seeing bad omens; he feared there was going to be a change in the weather.

He felt an inner hunger, and yet he somehow lacked appetite [338]for his kind of things. “Down and out, lost and no good,” he sighed within. But those who had got rich at his expense could not possibly succeed. This much he knew.

He began to lose his hair; he became rheumatic. As soon as the thermometer began to fall he shivered; if it rained he stayed at home. He began to study medicine, all by himself. He took up the various remedies of our remote ancestors. He read the works of Paracelsus, and declared that all those who had written on medicine since Paracelsus were quacks and poison-mixers.

His ideas with regard to music became also more and more strange and bizarre. He had discovered an old Nuremberg composer by the name of Staden. His opera entitled “Seelewig”—the first of all German operas, by the way—he insisted was the very zenith of musical art, eminently superior to Mozart and Bach. He played arias and melodies from “Seelewig” to Dorothea.

“Now, when you can get that,” he exclaimed, “when you come to the point where I can see from your playing what is in it and at the bottom of it, Heaven and Hell in one stroke of the bow, then, you little jackanapes, I’m going to make you my heiress.”

That was precisely what Dorothea had been longing to hear; it confirmed her calculations and crowned her dreams. To hear these words roll from her uncle’s tongue had been her ambition; and she had spared no pains to arrive at her goal.

Herr Carovius was not spoiled. Since the days his sister had kept house for him, no woman had ever concerned herself about him in the least. But at that time he was young; and he had wheedled himself into believing that the women were merely waiting for him, that all he had to do was to beckon to them with his finger and they would come rushing up to him in battalions. But because he had dreaded the idea of making an unhappy selection, and by reason of the expense of the enterprise, he had neglected to give the necessary signal, and hence had been so generous as to leave them in complete possession of their freedom.

He never knew until now that the soft, little hand of a woman could bring out effects as if they had come from the touch of a magic wand. “What a pleasant little phiz Döderlein’s offspring has,” he thought. And if Dorothea, who had made him believe that she was visiting him on the sly, though her father had given his consent long ago, chanced to remain away for a few days, he would become wild with rage, and go into the kitchen and chop wood merely to enjoy the sensation of destroying something.

[339]

Moreover, the music lessons Dorothea was taking at Herr Carovius’s expense gave the girl a new conception of her art, and awakened in her a measure of wholesome ambition. Satisfied as he was with her docility and her progress, Herr Carovius referred to her at times as the coming female Paganini, and pictured himself in the rôle of a demoniacal impresario.

But the thing about Dorothea that struck him most forcibly and filled him with such astonishment was her relation to mirrors.

A mirror exercised a tremendous influence on her. If she passed by one, her face became coloured with a charming blush of desire; if she stood before one and saw her picture reflected in it, she was filled, first with sexual unrest, and then with retreating uncertainty. In the brightness of her eyes there was always a longing for the mirror. Her gait and her gestures seemed to have duties imposed on them by the mirror; it seemed to be their task to prepare surprises. Her whole body seemed to live in common with a spectral mirror sister, and to catch sight of this beloved sister was her first wish, fulfilment of which she effected as often as possible.

VIII

Dorothea had succeeded in making it clear to her father that it would be highly advantageous to her, as the nearest relative, to show Herr Carovius every conceivable favour. Andreas Döderlein baulked at first; but he could not refuse recognition to the far-seeing penetration of his daughter.

When she told him of her appearance in the baronial residence, and mentioned the enormous sum Herr Carovius had collected with the mien of an undaunted victor, Döderlein became serious; he stared into space and did some hard thinking. Recalling the now superannuated feud, he preserved the appearance of inapproachability, and said: “We will not debase ourselves for the sake of Mammon.”

A few days later, however, he said, quite of his own free will, sighing like a man who has gone through some great moral struggle and come out of it victorious, “Well, do as you think best, my child, but don’t let me know anything about it.”

His argument, had he expressed it in so many words, would have been something like the following: We are poor; we are living from hand to mouth. The negligible dowry Herr Carovius gave his sister has been used up. Marguerite would have been perfectly [340]justified in putting in her claim for thirty thousand marks, but Herr Carovius settled with her for only twelve thousand, and there was no possibility of redress. For Herr Carovius had wheedled his sister into giving him a written statement that she was satisfied with the sum of twelve thousand: the remaining eighteen thousand was the price he demanded in return for her consent to have his sister, who was slavishly submissive to him, marry the man of her choice.

“I have been duped,” said Andreas Döderlein, and bore up under his grudge with becoming dignity.

The director of the conservatory died, and Andreas Döderlein, who, by virtue of his achievements and his personality, had the first right to the vacant position, was appointed to it. His former colleagues were stout in their contention that the appointment cost him many a bitter visit to the powers that be. Döderlein read envy in their eyes and smiled to himself.

But it was a hard life. “Art cannot live without bread,” said Döderlein, with a heroic glance into the future. “But oh, what works I could bring out if I only had time! Give me time, time, and,” swinging his hands cloudward, “the eagles above would greet me!”

IX

Herr Carovius and death were intimate friends. Whenever death had an errand to run, it always knocked on Herr Carovius’s door, as if to find a person who approved of its deeds and who had a just appreciation of them, for there were so many of the other kind.

But when Herr Carovius heard that Eleanore Nothafft had died, he felt that his old friend had gone a bit too far. He was touched. He was seized with griping pains in the abdominal region, and locked himself up for the period of one whole day in his court room. There he was taken down with catalepsy; his face went through a horrible transformation: it came to look as if all the wickedness, hopelessness, and despair of the man who had never become reconciled to life through love had been concentrated in it and petrified.

His forebodings had come true.

Eleanore’s funeral took place on a rainy June day. Herr Carovius, dressed in his shabby old yellow raincoat with its big pockets, was present. There were also many others present. Every face [341]was touched with grief; every eye was filled with tears, like the earth round about. Those who had not known her had at least heard of her. They had known that she had been there in some capacity, just as one hears of some unusual phenomenon among the celestial bodies, and that she was gone; that she was no more to be seen. For one moment at least all these people were changed into deep, seeing, feeling beings; for one moment they laid aside their fruitless activities, their petty misdeeds, desires, anxieties, and vanities, and became conscious of the fact that the truth, purity, love, and loveliness of this earth had been decreased.

Herr Carovius went home and made a lime-blossom tea; such a tea had often helped him when he had not felt well.

The rain dripped down on the kitchen window sill. Herr Carovius said to himself: “That is my last funeral.”

Along in the evening Dorothea came in and after her Philippina Schimmelweis. Herr Carovius had paid her many a penny for her services as a spy, and now she wanted to hear what he had to say to this last and greatest of misfortunes. His infatuated interest in everything Eleanore did had been a source of unmitigated pleasure to her, though she had been exceedingly cautious never to let him see how she felt about it all. On the contrary, she never failed to affect a hypocritical seriousness in the face of all his questions, orders, instructions, and caustic observations. She had egged him on; she had flattered him; she had used every opportunity to fan the flames of his ridiculous hopes. Owing to this the confidence between the two had grown to considerable proportion; the man’s senile madness, born of his love for Eleanore, had even aroused Philippina’s lewd lasciviousness.

She said she would have to be going home; the child was asleep; and though she had locked the front door, you could never tell what was going to happen over there. “My God,” she said, “things take place in that house that are never heard of in any other home.”

The presence of Dorothea disturbed and annoyed her. She sat down on the kitchen bench, and looked at the young girl with poison in her eyes. Dorothea on the other hand found it painfully difficult to conceal her disgust at the mere sight of Philippina: her ugliness defied descriptive adjectives. Dorothea never took her eyes off the creature who sat there talking in a screeching voice, and who, as if her normal unattractiveness were not enough, had her head bandaged.

The fact is that Philippina had the toothache; for this reason [342]her face was wrapped in a loud, checkered cloth, while out from underneath her hat stuck two little tassels.

She told the story of Eleanore’s death with much satisfaction to herself, and with that delight in the tragic in which she revelled by instinct. “And now,” she said, “old Jordan sits over there in his attic rooms and sobs, and Daniel goes moping about, refusing to eat any food and looking at you with eyes that would fill you with fear even if everything else was as it should be.”

This is the point to which Daniel has brought things, she showed in her gratuitous report, in which there was an attempt to chide him for his waywardness: He has put two women under the ground, has a helpless child in the house, is out of a job, is not making a cent. Now what could this kind of doings lead to? Judge Rübsam’s wife had paid the funeral expenses. Why, you know, Daniel didn’t even know what they were talking about when the bill came in, and old Jordan, he didn’t have twenty marks to his name. She swore she wasn’t going to stand for it much longer, and if Daniel didn’t quit his piano-strumming—he wasn’t getting a cent for it—she was going to know a thing or two.

Quite contrary to his established custom, Herr Carovius failed to show the slightest interest in her gabble; at least he made no concessions to her. Nor did he fuss and fume; he gazed into space, and seemed to be thinking about many serious things all at the same time. His silence made Philippina raging mad. She jumped up and left without saying good-bye to him, slamming first the room door and then the hall door behind her.

Dorothea was standing by the piano rummaging around in some note books. Her thoughts were on what she had just been hearing.

She remembered Daniel Nothafft quite well. She knew that there was an irreconcilable feud between him and her father. She had seen him; people had pointed out the man with the angry looking eyes to her on the street. She had felt at the time as if she had already talked with him, though she could not say when or where. She had a vague idea as to what people said about him, and she knew that he was looked upon in the city as the adversary of evil himself.

Her breast was filled with an aimless longing. Her blood began to run warm, the fusty milieu in which she just then chanced to be cleared up and began to bestir itself. She took her violin and began to play a Hungarian dance, while an enlivening smile [343]flitted across her face, and her eyes shone with the audacity of an ambitious and temperamental girl.

Herr Carovius raised his head: “Tempo!” he exclaimed, “Tempo!” and began to beat time with his hands and stamp the floor with his feet.

Dorothea smiled, shook her head, and played more and more rapidly.

“Tempo,” howled Herr Carovius. “Tempo!”

The barking of a sad dog was wafted into the room from the court below. It was Cæsar: he was on his last legs.

X

Daniel’s mother had come; she had brought little Eva along.

Marian had learned of Eleanore’s death through the newspaper. No one had thought of her; no one had written to her. She had not read it in the newspaper herself. The doctor in Eschenbach, who had subscribed to the Fränkischer Herold, had read it one morning, and had given her the paper with considerable hesitation, calling her attention to the death notice.

She was not present at the funeral. But she went out to the cemetery and prayed by Eleanore’s grave.

She appreciated Daniel’s loss. When she met him he was precisely as she thought he would be. She recognised her son in his great grief and mute despair: he was nearer to her then than at any other time of his life. She honoured his grief; she did not need to decrease it or divert it. She was silent, just as Daniel himself was silent. All she did was to lay her hand on his forehead occasionally. He murmured: “Mother, oh Mother!” She replied: “Now don’t! Don’t think of me!”

She said to herself: “When an Eleanore dies in the full bloom of youth, one must mourn until the soul of its own accord again grows hungry for life.”

At first Eva had tried to play with her little step-sister; but Philippina had chased her from the room. Once she turned against the enraged daughter of Jason Philip Schimmelweis, and said: “I’ll tell my father on you!”

“Yes? You’ll tell your father? Well, tell him! Who cares?” replied Philippina scornfully. “But who is your father? What is he? Where is he? In Pomerania perhaps?” Whereupon she added in a sing-song voice: “Pomerania is burnt to the ground. Fly, cockchafer, fly!”

[344]

“My father? He’s in the room there,” replied Eva surprised and offended: “I am in his house, and little Agnes is my sister.”

Philippina tore open her eyes and her mouth: “Your father—is in the room—” she stammered, “and little Agnes—is your sister?” She got up, seized Eva by the shoulders, and dragged her across the floor into the room where Daniel and Marian were sitting. With an outburst of laughter that sounded as though she were not quite in her right mind, and with an expression of impudence and rage on her face, she panted forth her indignation in the following terms: “This brat says Daniel is her father and Agnes is her sister! A scurvy chit—I’ll say!”

Marian, terrified, sprang to her feet, ran over to Eva, and began to scream: “Let her go, take your hands off that child!” Eva was pale, the tears were rolling down her cheeks, her little arms were stretched out as if in urgent need of help from an older hand. Philippina let go of her and stepped back. “Is it really true?” she whispered, “is it really true?” Marian knelt down and picked up her foster child: “Now you mind your own business, you rogue,” she said to Philippina.

“Daniel?” Philippina turned to Daniel with uplifted arms, and repeated, “Daniel?” She seemed to be challenging him to speak; and to be reproaching him for having deceived her. There was something quite uncanny about the way she said, “Daniel? Daniel?”

“You go back and mind Agnes!” said Daniel, worried as he had never been before: he felt more than ever under obligations to Philippina. And what could he do now without her? She was the sole guardian of his child. His mother could not remain in the city; she had to make her living, and that she could do only over in Eschenbach. Her business was located there; and there Eva was growing up in peace and happiness. On the other hand, he did not feel that it would be possible or advisable to take Agnes away from Philippina, even if his mother saw fit to adopt her too. Philippina was attached to the child with an ape-like affection. And more than this: Who would take care of old Jordan if Philippina were discharged? Daniel could not make his bed or get his meals.

Philippina went out. “The damned scoundrel!” she said as soon as she had left the room. She clenched her horny fists, and continued Daniel’s life history: “The brute has a bastard, he has. You wait, you little chit, and the first chance I get I’ll scratch your eyes out!”

[345]

Taking the child on her lap, Marian sat down by Daniel’s side. “Don’t cry, Eva, don’t cry; we’re going back home now in a minute.”

Daniel looked at his mother most attentively, and told her how Philippina had chanced to come into his family. He told her all about Jason Philip’s attempt to rob him of his inheritance, and how his own daughter had betrayed him; how his father had taken three thousand talers to Jason Philip; how Jason Philip had been forced to hand over a part of the money when Jordan was in trouble because of his son; and how he had waived his claims to the rest of the money.

Marian’s head sank low on her breast. “Your father was a remarkable man, Daniel,” she said after a long silence, “but he never did understand people; and the person whom he misunderstood most of all was his wife. He was like a man who is blind, but who does not want to let it be known that he is blind: he walks around, but where does he go? He stands still and has not the faintest idea where he is. And by the way, Daniel, it seems to me that you are a little bit like him. Open your eyes, Daniel, I beg you, open your eyes!”

The child in her lap had fallen asleep. Daniel looked into Eva’s face—yes, he opened his eyes—and as he saw this delicate, sweet, charming countenance so close before him, he could no longer control himself. He turned to the wall, and cried as if his heart would break: “I am a murderer!”

“No, Daniel,” said Marian gently, “or if you are, then everybody who lives is a murderer, the dead of the past being the victims.”

Daniel writhed in agony and gnashed his teeth.

“Father is in the room there,” whispered Eva in her dreams.

XI

The hardest of all for Marian was to get along with old Jordan; for he was only a shadow of his former self. He never entered Daniel’s room; if Marian wanted to see him she went upstairs, and there he sat, quiet, helpless, extinguished, a picture of utter dereliction.

He never mentioned his sorrows; it made him restless to see that Marian sympathised with him. When she did, he became quite courteous; he even tried to act the part of a man of the world. The effect of this assumed sprightliness, seen from the background [346]of his physical impoverishment and spiritual decay, was terrifying.

Marian hoped to hear something from him concerning Daniel’s present situation. She knew, in a general way, that he was in profound distress, that he was living in most straightened circumstances, and this worried her tremendously. But she wanted to know how he stood in the world; whether people felt there was anything to him; and whether music was something from which a man could make a decent living. On this last point her distrust was as strong as ever; her fear showed no signs of weakening. It was Eleanore, and she only, that had given her a measure of confidence: it seemed that Eleanore’s disposition, her very presence, had inspired her with a vague, far-away idea of music. But now Eleanore was gone, and all her old doubts returned.

Jordan however became painfully secretive whenever she referred to Daniel. He seemed to be grieved at the mere mention of his name. He would merely look at the door, tuck his hands up his coat-sleeves, and draw his head down between his shoulders.

Once he said: “Can you explain to me, my good woman, why I am alive? Can you throw any light on such a preposterous paradox as my present existence? My son—a wretch, vanished without a trace, so far as I am concerned no longer living. My daughters, both of them, in the grave; my dear wife also. I have been a man, a husband, and a father; that is, I have been a father! My existence scorns the laws and purposes of nature. To eat, to drink, to sleep—oh, what repulsive occupations! And yet, if I do not eat, I get hungry; if I do not drink, I get thirsty; if I do not sleep, I get sick. How simple, how aimless it all is! For me the birds no longer sing, the bells no longer ring, the musicians have no more music.”

Owing to her desire to find consolation of some kind and at any price, she turned to Eberhard and Sylvia; they were now visiting Daniel almost every day. She liked them; there was so much consideration for other people in their behaviour, so much delicacy and refinement in their conversation. Sylvia was not in the least offended by Daniel’s sullen silence; she treated him with a respect and deference that made Marian feel good; for it was proof to her that in the eyes of good and noble people Daniel stood in high esteem. The Baron seemed in some mysterious way to be continually talking about Eleanore, though he never mentioned her name. There was a sadness in his eyes that reminded her of Eleanore; there was something supersensuous in its power. [347]Marian often felt as though this strange nobleman and her son were brothers and at the same time enemies, as seen in the light of painful memories. Sylvia also seemed to have the same feeling; but she found nothing objectionable in the relation.

One day, as Marian accompanied the two to the hall door, she decided to pick up her courage; and she did. “Well, how do you think he is going to make out?” she asked; “he has no work; as a matter of fact he never speaks of work. What will that lead to?”

“We have been thinking about that,” replied Sylvia, “and I believe a way has been found to help him. He will hear about it in a short while. But he must not suspect that we have anything to do with it.” She looked at her fiancé; he nodded approvingly.

Eberhard and Sylvia knew perfectly well from the very beginning that there could be no thought of lending Daniel money. Gifts, large or small, merely humiliated him; they disgraced him. It was a case where eagerness to serve on the part of those who have meets with insurmountable obstacles, whether they wish to be lavish in their generosity or of seeming calculation. There was no use to appeal to delicacy; attenuating provisos would not help; small deceptions practised in the spirit of love would prove ineffectual. Riches stood face to face with poverty, and was as helpless as poverty usually is when obliged to enter the lists against riches. The case was striking, but not unique.

Having made up her mind to come to the assistance of the musician, Sylvia turned to her mother. But it was idle to count on the backing of the Baroness: Andreas Döderlein had so poisoned her mind against Daniel that the mere mention of his name caused her brow to wrinkle, her lips to drop.

Agatha von Erfft got in touch, by letter, with some business people who were in a position to give her some practical advice. Their assistance was helpful in that it at least saved her the invaluable time she might have lost by appealing to the wrong people. One day she appeared before Eberhard and Sylvia with her plans all drawn up.

One of the most reputable music houses of Mayence had been nursing the idea for years of bringing out a pretentious collection of mediæval church music. A great deal of material had already been assembled under the supervision of a writer on musical subjects who had recently died. But there was still much to be collected. To do this, it would be necessary to go on long journeys, and these would entail the expenditure of a good deal of money. Moreover, it was necessary to find a man who would not be afraid [348]of the work attached to the undertaking, and on whose judgment one could rely without doubt or cavil. Owing to the fact that the expenses up to the present had far exceeded the initial calculations, and since it seemed impossible to engage the right sort of man to place in charge of the work, the publisher had become first sceptical and then positive; positive that he would invest no more money in it.

Agatha had heard of this some time ago. That the enterprise might be revived she learned from direct inquiry; indirect investigation confirmed what she had been told. But the publisher was unwilling to assume all the financial responsibility; he was looking for a patron who would be disposed to invest capital in the plan. If such a person could be found, he was willing to place Daniel Nothafft, whose name was now known to him, in the responsible position of making the collections and editing them. There would be a good deal of work connected with the undertaking: the treasures of the archives, libraries, and convents would have to be investigated; corrections would have to be made; notes would have to be written; and the entire work would have to be seen through the press. To do this would take several years. The publisher consequently insisted that whoever was placed in charge should sign a contract to remain until the work had been finished, he in turn agreeing to pay the editor a salary of three thousand marks a year.

Eberhard made careful inquiries as to the standing of the firm, and finding that it enjoyed a rating well above the average, he agreed to furnish the requisite capital.

A few days after the conversation between Sylvia and Marian, Daniel received a letter in the morning mail from Philander and Sons, requesting him to accept the position, a detailed description of which was given. In the event of his acceptance, all he had to do was to sign the enclosed contract.

He read the letter carefully and quietly from beginning to end. His face did not brighten up. He walked back and forth in the room a few times, and then went to the window and looked out. “It seems to rain every day this summer,” he said.

Marian had returned to the table. She took the letter with the enclosed contract and read both of them. Her heart beat with joy, but she was exceedingly careful not to betray her state of mind to Daniel: she was afraid of his contradictory and crotchety disposition. She hardly dared look at him, as she waited in anxious suspense to see what he would do.

[349]

Finally he came back to the table, made a wry face, stared at the letter, and then said quite laconically: “Church music? Yes, I will do it.” With that he took his pen, and scrawled his name to the contract.

“Thank God,” whispered Marian.

That afternoon they left Daniel. Eva hung on her father’s neck, quite unwilling to leave him. Without the least display of shyness, she kissed him many times, laughing as she did so. She was overflowing with a natural and whole-hearted love for him. Daniel offered no resistance. He looked serious. As his eye caught that of the child, he shuddered at the abundant fulness of her life; but he was aware at the same time of a promise, and against this he struggled with all the power there was in him.

XII

It was a sunny day in September. Eberhard, who had spent the entire August at Erfft, had returned to the city to attend to some urgent business—and also to hasten the arrangements for his coming wedding.

As the streets were filled with playing children, he sauntered along on his way up to the Castle on the hill. He wanted to look up his little house; he had not been in it for months. He had a feeling that he would enjoy the quiet up there; he longed to look back over and into scenes from the past; he wanted to pass in review the shadowy pictures of his former self; pictures he saw before him wherever he went, wherever he was. One of these was always with him; if he found himself in a certain room it was there; if he went on a long journey it was with him. He even found it on the faded pages of books he had taken to himself as companions in his loneliness.

He hesitated from time to time, stopped, and seemed quite irresolute. All of a sudden he turned around, and started back with hasty steps to Ægydius Place. Just as he was entering the hall of Daniel’s apartment, he met Daniel coming out. He greeted Eberhard and gave him his hand.

“I was just going to call for you,” said the Baron. “Won’t you come with me up to my old hermitage?”

Daniel looked out through his glasses at a swallow that was just then circling around over the square; there was something fabulous in its flight. “To tell you the truth, Baron, I have very little inclination to gossip at present.” He made the remark with as [350]much consideration for the laws of human courtesy as lay within his power.

“There must be no gossiping,” said Eberhard. “I have a great secret, one that I can tell you without saying a word.”

Daniel went along with him.

The air in the little house was dead, stuffy. But Eberhard did not open the windows; he wished to have it as quiet as it was when they entered. Daniel took a seat on one of the chairs in the former living room of the Baron. Eberhard thought he had sat down because he was tired; he therefore took a seat opposite him. The evening sun cast a slanting ray on an old copper engraving based on a scene from pastoral life. A mouse played around in the corner.

“Well, what is your secret?” asked Daniel brusquely, after they had sat in perfect silence for some time.

Eberhard got up, and made a gesture which meant that Daniel was to follow him. They crossed the narrow hall, climbed up a pair of small steps, and then Eberhard opened a door leading into the attic room.

A stupefying, deadening odour of decayed flowers struck them in the face. Involuntarily Daniel turned to go, but the Baron pointed at the walls in absolute silence.

“What is this? What kind of a room is this?” asked Daniel, rather forcibly.

The four walls of the room were completely covered with bouquets, garlands, and wreaths of withered flowers. The leaves had fallen from most of them, and were now lying scattered about the floor. Leaves that had once been green had turned brown; the grasses and mosses were in shreds, the twigs were dry and brittle. Many of the bouquets had had ribbons attached to them; these, once red or blue, were now faded. Others had been bound with gold tinsel; this had rusted. The slanting rays of the sun fell on others, and lighted them as it had shone on the copper engraving in the room below. Through the purple rays could be seen a dancing stream of dust.

It was a flower mausoleum; a vault of bouquets, a death-house of memories. Daniel suspected what it all meant. He felt his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth; a chill ran over him. And when Eberhard at last began to speak, his eyes filled with hot, gushing tears.

“The flowers were all picked and bound by her hands, by Eleanore’s hands,” said Eberhard. And then, after a pause: “She prepared [351]the bouquets for a florist, and I bought them; she had no idea who bought them.” That was all he said.

Daniel looked back into his past life, as if an invisible arm were drawing him to the pinnacle of some high mountain. He looked, and his soul was dissolved in anxiety, torture, and repentance.

What had he left? Two graves: that was all. No, he had, aside from the two graves, a broken harp, some withered flowers, and a mask of terracotta.

He looked at the dead stems and withered chalices: Eleanore’s fingers had once touched all of these. Her fingers were even then hovering over the dead buds like figures from the realm of spirits. In the dusty spider webs hung caught at present unused moments, kind words that were never spoken, consolation that was never expressed, encouragement, consideration, and happiness that were allowed to pass unclaimed and unapplied. Oh, this living and not knowing what the present contains! Oh, this being with a living life, and remaining unaware of it! This failure to avail one’s self of a wonderful day, a breathing, pulsing hour! This dragging, falling, plunging into the night of desire and delusion, this proud, vain, criminal discontent! O winged creature, winged creature, where art thou! Where can one call out to thee!

There was nothing left but two graves, a broken harp, withered flowers, and a mask! And a fair child here, a foul one there, and a third that had come into life only to die! And up above all this, up above even the tip of the mountain top, the gigantic, the inexpressible, the sea of dreams and dreamed melodies, the breath of God, the annunciation of infernal darkness, the message of eternity, the wonders of temporal existence, dance and dancing pipes, peals of thunder, and sweet weavings of sound—Music!

It was evening. The Baron closed the door. Daniel reached him his hand in silence, and then went home.

[352]THE PROMETHEAN SYMPHONY

I

During the following autumn and winter, Daniel lived a quiet, lonely life. In the spring, Sylvia von Auffenberg wrote him a letter, asking him to come over to Siegmundshof and spend a few weeks with her and Eberhard. He declined, though he promised to come later.

Old Herold visited him occasionally. He told all about the friction in the conservatory since Döderlein had been in charge, and contended that the world was on the point of turning into a pig-stye.

Herr Seelenfromm also came in from time to time, while among other visitors were the architect who had a defect in his speech and Martha Rübsam. Toward the close of the winter Herr Carovius also called. Socially he had become more nearly possible than he had been in former years. He still held, however, some very remarkable views about music.

Whatever any of the visitors said went in one of Daniel’s ears and out of the other. It would often happen that there would be a number of people in his presence, and he would seem to be listening to them; and yet if you watched his face, you could see that he was completely absent-minded. If some one turned to him with a question, he would not infrequently smile like a child, and make no effort whatsoever to respond. No one had ever noticed him smile this way before.

He returned the money Philippina had loaned him at the time the piano was pawned. Philippina said: “Oi, oi, Daniel, you seem to be swimming in money!” She brought him the receipt, and then took the money to her room, where she did a lot of figuring to see whether the interest had been accurately calculated.

Little Agnes was sitting on the floor, sucking a stick of candy. She was always happy when Philippina was around; she was afraid of her father.

Friends had told him that his apartment was too large now; he was advised to give it up and take a smaller one. He became [353]enraged; he said he would never do this voluntarily, for the house meant a great deal more to him than merely so many rented rooms; and he insisted that everything be left just as it was.

One day at the beginning of spring he said to Philippina: “I am going away for a long time. Watch the child, and don’t let the old man upstairs suffer for anything. I will send you the money to keep up the house on the first day of each month, and you will be held responsible for everything that takes place. Moreover; I want to pay you a set wage: I will give you five talers a month. There is no reason why you should work for me for nothing.”

The shaking and shuddering that Daniel had often had occasion to notice in Philippina returned. She shrugged her shoulders, looked as mean as only she could, and said: “Save your coppers; you’ll need ’em; you mustn’t try to act so rich all of a sudden; it ain’t good for your health. If you have any money to spend, go out and git Agnes a pair of shoes and a decent dress.” Daniel made no reply.

Her greediness in money matters had certainly not diminished since the day she began to pilfer from her parents. She loved money; she adored the shining metal; she liked to see it and feel it; she liked to take bank notes in her hands and caress them. It gave her intense pleasure to think that people looked upon her as being poor when she was actually carrying more than a thousand marks around in an old stocking stuffed down in her corset between her breasts. She loved to hear people complain of hard times. When a beggar reached out his hand to her on the street, she felt that he was doing it as an act of homage to her; she would cause her bosom to heave so that she might feel the presence of the stocking more keenly. She was pleased to think that one so young had made herself so secure against future eventualities of any kind.

She felt, despite all this, like scratching Daniel’s eyes out when he spoke of paying her regular monthly wages. This she regarded as base ingratitude. If it were at all possible for grief to find ineradicable lodgment in her envious, unenlightened, malicious soul, Daniel’s offer of so much per month made it so.

She ran into the kitchen, and hurled knives and forks in the sink. She went to old Jordan’s room, knocked on his door, and made him open it; then she told him with all the anger at her resourceful command that Daniel was going away. “There is hardly a cent in the house, and he’s going on a jamboree!” she [354]exclaimed. “There is some damned wench back of this. Go tell him, Herr Inspector, go tell him what a dirty thing it is he’s doing—going away and leaving his child and his old father in the lurch. Do it, Herr Inspector, and you’ll get potato dumplings, ginger-bread, and sauce for dinner next Sunday.”

Jordan looked at Philippina timidly. His mouth watered for the food she had promised him; for she was holding him down to a near-starvation diet. He was often so hungry that he would sneak into the delicatessen shop, and buy himself ten pfennigs’ worth of real food.

“I will make inquiry as to the reason for his going,” murmured Jordan, “but I hardly believe that I will be able to move him one way or the other.”

“Well, you go out and take a little walk; git a bit of fresh air,” commanded Philippina; “I’ve got to straighten up your room. Your windows need washing; you can’t see through ’em for dirt.”

Late that evening Daniel came up to say good-bye to Jordan.

“Where are you going?” asked the old man.

“I want to see a little of the German Empire,” replied Daniel. “I have some business to attend to up in the North, in the cities and also out in the country.”

“Good luck to you,” said Jordan, much oppressed, “good luck to you, my dear son. How long are you going to be gone?”

“Oh, I don’t know yet; possibly for years.”

“For years?” asked Jordan. He looked at the floor; he tried to keep his eyes on the floor under his feet: “Then I suppose we might as well say good-bye forever.”

Daniel shook his head. “It makes no difference when I return, I will find you here,” he said with a note of strange assurance in his voice. “When fate has treated a man too harshly, there seems to come a time when it no longer bothers him; it evades him, in fact. It seems to me that this is the case with you: you are quite fateless.”

Jordan made no reply. He opened his eyes as if in fear, and sighed.

The next morning Daniel left home. He wore a brown hunting jacket buttoned close up to his neck with hartshorn buttons. Over this hung a top-coat and a cape. His broad-brimmed hat overshadowed his face, which looked young, although so serious and distracted that voices, glances, and sounds of any kind seemed to rebound from it like swift-running water from a smooth stone wall.

Philippina carried his luggage to the station. Her dress was [355]literally smothered in garish, gaudy ribbons. The women in the market-place laughed on seeing her until they got a colic.

When Daniel took leave from her and boarded the train, she did not open her mouth; she wrinkled her forehead, rubbed the ends of her fingers against each other, stood perfectly quiet, and looked at the ground. Long after the train had left the station, she was still to be seen standing there in that unique position. A station official went up to her, and, with poorly concealed ridicule at the rare phenomenon, asked her what she was waiting for.

She turned her back on him, and started off. She came back by way of St. James’s Place, and talked for a quarter of an hour with her friend Frau Hadebusch. It was Sunday. Benjamin Dorn was just coming home from church. Seeing Philippina, he made a profound bow.

Frau Hadebusch slapped Philippina on the hip, and smiled at her knowingly.

Herr Francke was no longer living at Frau Hadebusch’s: he was in jail. He had promised to marry the cook of a certain distinguished family; but instead of hastening the coming of the happy day, he had gambled away the savings of his bride-to-be.

II

Daniel had a letter of introduction to the Prior of the Monastery at Löhriedt. He was looking for a manuscript that was supposed to have been written by a contemporary of Orlando di Lasso, if not by Di Lasso himself.

He remained for over two months, working at his collection. He found his association with the monks quite agreeable, and they liked him. One of them, who held him in especially high regard because of his ability as an organist, gave him to understand that it was a matter of unaffected regret to him that he could not greet him, Protestant that he was, with the confidence that a man of his singular distinction deserved.

“So! I wish I were a Jew,” said Daniel to him, “then you would have a really unqualified opportunity to see what God can do without your assistance.”

The monk in question was called Father Leonhard; he was a short, wiry fellow with black eyes and a dark complexion. He seemed to have had a great deal of experience with the world, and to have no little cause for contrition and repentance: there was nothing conventional about his religious practices; they were, on [356]the contrary, of almost redundant fervour and renunciation. Daniel was impressed by the man’s faith, though his soul shuddered when in his presence: he regarded him as an enemy, a Philistine, and preferred not to look at him at all.

He lived close by the monastery in the house of a railroad official. Father Leonhard came in to visit him once. Daniel was sitting by the window busily engaged in making some corrections. The Father looked about the room: his eyes fell on a round, wooden box lying on a chair; it looked like a cake box.

“The people at home have sent you something to nibble at,” remarked the Father, as Daniel got up.

Daniel riveted his eyes on the monk, took the box, hesitated for a while, and then opened it. In it, carefully packed in sawdust, was the mask of Zingarella. It was a part of Daniel’s meagre luggage; wherever he went it followed him.

Father Leonhard sprang back terrified. “What does that mean?” he asked.

“It means sin and purification,” said Daniel, holding the mask up in the light of the setting sun. “It means grief and redemption, despair and mercy, love and death, chaos and form.”

From that day on, Father Leonhard never said another word to Daniel Nothafft. And whenever the strange musician chanced to play the organ, the monk arose as quickly as possible, left the church, and sought out some place where the tones could not reach him.

III

That summer Daniel came to Aix-la-Chapelle and the region of Liége, Louvain, and Malines. From there he wandered on foot to Ghent and Bruges.

In places where he had to make investigations, he was obliged to depend upon the letters he received from his publisher to make himself understood. Condemned to silence, he lived very much alone; he was a stranger in a strange land.

He had no interest in sights. It was rare that he looked at old paintings. The beautiful never caused him to stop unless it actually blocked his way. He went about as if in between two walls. He followed his nose, turned around only with the greatest reluctance, and never felt tired until he was ready to lie down to sleep.

And even when he was tired the feeling that he was being [357]robbed of something gnawed at his soul; he was restless even when he slept. Haste coloured his eye, fashioned his step, and moulded his deeds. He ate his meals in haste, wrote his letters in haste, and talked in haste.

It pained him to feel that men were looking at him. Although he invariably sought out the most deserted corner of whatever inn he chanced to stop at, and thereby avoided becoming, so far as he might, the target of the curious, he was nevertheless gaped at, watched, and studied wherever he went. For everything about him was conspicuous: the energy of his gestures, the agility of his mimicry, the way he showed his teeth, and the nervous, hacking step with which he moved through groups of gossiping people.

He had anticipated with rare pleasure the sight of the sea. He was prepared to behold the monstrous, titanic, seething, and surging element, the tempest of the Apocalypse. He was disappointed by the peaceful rise and fall of the tide, the harmless rolling back and forth of the waves. He concluded that it were better for one not to become acquainted with things that had inspired one’s fancy with reverential awe.

He could quarrel with nature just as he could quarrel with men. The phases of nature which he regarded as her imperfections excited his anger. He was fond, however, of a certain spot in the forest; or he liked a tree in the plain, or sunset along the canal.

He liked best of all the narrow streets of the cities, when the gentle murmurings of song wafted forth from the open windows, or when the light from the lamp shone forth from the windows after they had been closed. He loved to pass by courts and cellars, gates and fences; when the face of an old man, or that of a young girl, came suddenly to view, when workmen went home from the factories, or soldiers from the barracks, or seamen from the harbours, he saw a story in each of them; he felt as one feels on reading an exciting book.

One day when he was in Cleve he walked the streets at night all alone. He noticed a man and a woman and five children, all poorly dressed, standing near a church. Lying before them on the pavement were several bundles containing their earthly possessions. A man came up after a while and addressed them in a stern, domineering tone; they picked up their bundles and followed him: it was a mournful procession. They were emigrants; the man had told them about their ship.

Daniel felt as if a cord in his soul had been made taut and were vibrating without making a sound. The steps of the eight [358]people, as they died away in the distance, developed gradually into a rhythmical, musical movement. What had been confused became ordered; what had been dark shone forth in light. Weighed down with heaviness of soul, he went on, his eyes fixed on the ground as if he were looking for something. He no longer saw, nor could he hear. Nor did he know what time it was.

After a year and a half of congealed torpidity, the March wind once more began to blow in his soul.

But it was like a disease; he was being consumed with impatience. His immediate goal was the cloister of Œsede at Osnabrück, and from there he wanted to go to Berlin. He could not bear to sit in the railway carriages: in Wesel he placed his trunk on a freight train, and went from there on foot, his top-coat hung over his arm, his knapsack strapped across his back. Despite the inclement weather he walked from eight to ten hours every day. It was towards the end of October, the mornings and evenings were chilly, the roads were muddy, the inns were wretched. This did not deter him from going on: he walked and walked, sought and sought, often until late at night, passionately absorbed in himself.

When he came to the coal and iron district, he raised his head more and more frequently. The houses were black, the earth and the air were black, blackened men met him on the road. Copper wires hummed in the fog and mist, hammers clinked, wheels hummed, chimneys smoked, whistles blew—it was like a dream vision, like the landscape of an unknown and accursed star.

One evening he left a little inn which he had entered to get something to eat and drink. It was eight miles to Dortmund, where he planned to stay over night. He had left the main road, when all of a sudden the fire from the blast-furnaces leaped up, giving the mist the appearance of a blood-red sea. Miners were coming in to the village; in the light of the furnaces their tired, blackened faces looked like so many demoniac caricatures. Far or near, it was impossible to say, a horse could be seen drawing a car over shining rails. On it stood a man flourishing his whip. Beast, man, and car all seemed to be of colossal size; the “gee” and “haw” of the driver sounded like the mad cries of a spectre; the iron sounds from the forges resembled the bellowing of tormented creatures.

Daniel had found what he had been looking for: he had found the mournful melody that had driven him away the day Eleanore died. He had, to be sure, put it on the paper then and there, [359]but it had remained without consequence: it had been buried in the grave with Eleanore.

Now it had arisen, and its soul—its consequence—had arisen with it; it was expanded into a wonderful arch, arranged and limbed like a body, and filled as the world is full.

Music had been born to him again from the machine, from the world of machinery.

IV

Jason Philip Schimmelweis had been obliged to give up his house by the museum bridge. He could not pay the rent; his business was ruined. By a mere coincident it came about that the house on the Corn Market had a cheap apartment that was vacant, and he took it. It was the same house in which he lived when he made so much money twenty years ago.

Was Jason Philip no longer in touch with modern business methods? Had he become too old and infirm to make the public hungry for literary nourishment? Were his advertisements without allurement, his baits without scent? No one felt inclined to buy expensive lexicons and editions de luxe on the instalment plan. The rich old fellows with a nose for dubious reading matter never came around any more. Jason Philip had become a dilatory debtor; the publishers no longer gave him books on approval; he was placed on the black list.

He took to abusing modern writers, contending that it was no wonder that the writing of books was left exclusively to good-for-nothing subjects of the Empire, for the whole nation was suffering from cerebral atrophy.

But his reasoning was of no avail; his business collapse was imminent; in a jiffy it was a hard reality. A man by the name of Rindskopf bought his stock and furnishings at brokers’ prices, and the firm of Jason Philip Schimmelweis had ceased to exist.

In his distress Jason Philip appealed to the Liberal party. He boasted of his friendship with the former leader of the party, Baron von Auffenberg, but this only made matters worse: one renegade was depending upon the support of another. This was natural: birds of a feather flock together.

Then he went to the Masons, and began to feel around for their help; he tried to be made a member of one of the better lodges. He was given to understand that there was some doubt as to the [360]loyalty of his convictions, with the result that the Masons would have none of him.

For some time he found actual difficulty in earning his daily bread. He had resigned his position with the Prudentia Insurance Company long ago. Ever since a certain interpellation in the Reichstag and a long lawsuit in which the Prudentia became involved, and which was decided in favour of its opponents, the standing of the company had suffered irreparably.

Jason Philip had no other choice: he had to go back to bookbinding; he had to return to pasting, cutting, and folding. He returned in the evening of his life, downcast, impoverished, and embittered, to the position from which he had started as an ambitious, resourceful, stout-hearted, and self-assured man years ago. His eloquence had proved of no avail, his cunning had not helped him, nor his change of political conviction, nor his familiarity with the favourable turns of the market, nor his speculations. He had never believed that the order of things in the world about him was just and righteous, neither as a Socialist nor as a Liberal. And now he was convinced that it was impossible to write a motto on the basis of business principles that would be fit material for a copy book in a kindergarten.

Willibald was still the same efficient clerk. Markus had got a job in a furniture store, where he spent his leisure hours studying Volapük, convinced as he was that all the nations of the earth would soon be using this great fraternal tongue.

Theresa moved into the house on the Corn Market with as much peace and placidity as if she had been anticipating such a change for years. There was a bay window in the house, and by this she sat when her work in the kitchen was done, knitting socks for her sons. At times she would scratch her grey head with her knitting needle, at times she would reach over and take a sip of cold, unsugared coffee, a small pot of which she always kept by her side. Hers was the most depressed face then known to the human family; hers were the horniest, wrinkliest peasant hands that formed part of any citizen of the City of Nuremberg.

She thought without ceasing of all that nice money that had passed through her hands during the two decades she had stood behind the counter of the establishment in the Plobenhof Street.

She tried to imagine where all the money had gone, who was using it now, and who was being tormented by it. For she was rid of it, and in the bottom of her heart she was glad that she no longer had it.

[361]

One day Jason Philip came rushing from his workshop into her room. He had a newspaper in his hand; his face was radiant with joy. “At last, my dear, at last! I have been avenged. Jason Philip Schimmelweis was after all a good prophet. Well, what do you say?” he continued, as Theresa looked at him without any noticeable display of curiosity, “what do you say? I’ll bet you can’t guess. No, you will never be able to guess what’s happened; it’s too much for a woman’s brain.” He mounted a chair, held the paper in his hand as if it were the flag of his country, waved it, and shouted: “Bismarck is done for! He’s got to go. The Kaiser hates him! Now let come what may, I have not lived in vain.”

Jason Philip had the feeling that it was due to his efforts that the reins of government had been snatched from the hands of the Iron Chancellor. His satisfaction found expression in blatancy and in actions that were thoroughly at odds with a man of his age. He held up his acquaintances on the street, and demanded that they offer him their congratulations. He went to his favourite café, and ordered a barrel of beer for the rejuvenation of his friends. He delivered an oration, spiced with all the forms of sarcasm known to the art of cheap politics and embellished with innumerable popular phrases, explaining why he regarded this as the happiest day of his eventful life.

He said: “If fate were to do me the favour of allowing me to stand face to face with this menace to public institutions, this unscrupulous tyrant, I would not, believe me, mince matters in the slightest: I would tell him things no mortal man has thus far dared say to him.”

Several months passed by. Bismarck, then staying at his country place in Sachsenwald and quarrelling with his lot, decided to visit Munich. There was tremendous excitement in Nuremberg when it was learned that he would pass through the city at such and such an hour.

Everybody wanted to see him, young and old, aristocrats and humble folk. Early in the morning the whole city seemed to be on its feet, making its way in dense crowds out through the King’s Gate.

This was a drama in which Jason Philip had to play his part: without him it would be incomplete. “To look into the eyes of a tiger whose claws have been chopped off and whose teeth have been knocked out is a pleasure and a satisfaction that my mother’s son dare not forego,” said he.

[362]

His elbows stood him in good stead. When the train pulled into the station, our rebel was standing in the front row, having pushed his way through the seemingly impenetrable mass of humanity.

The train stopped for a few minutes. The Iron Chancellor left his carriage amid deafening hurrahs from the assembled multitude. He shook hands with the Mayor and a few high-ranking army officers.

Jason Philip never budged. It never occurred to him to shout his own hurrah. An acidulous smile played around his mouth, his white beard quivered when he dropped the corners of his lips in satanic glee. It never occurred to him to take off his hat, despite the threatening protests all too audible round about him. “I am consistent, my dear Bismarck, I am incorruptible,” he thought to himself.

And yet—the satisfaction which we have described as satanic seemed somehow or other to be ill founded: it was in such marked contrast to the general enthusiasm. What had possessed this imbecile pack? Why was it raging? It saw the enemy, the hangman, right there before it, immune to the law, dressed in civilian clothes, and yet it was acting as though the Messiah had come to town on an extra train!

Jason Philip had the feeling that Bismarck was looking straight at him. He fancied that the fearfully tall man with the unusually small head and the enormously blue eyes had taken offence at his silence. He feared some one had told him all about his political beliefs.

The scornful smile died away. Jason Philip detected a lukewarm impotency creeping over his body. The sweat of solicitude trickled down across his forehead. Involuntarily he kneed his way closer to the edge of the platform, threw out his chest, jerked his hat from his head, opened his mouth, and cried: “Hurrah!”

He cried hurrah. The Prince turned his face from him, and looked in another direction.

But Jason Philip had cried hurrah.

He sneaked home shaking with shame. He drew his slippers, “For the tired Man—Consolation,” on his feet. They had become quite worn in the course of his tempestuous life. He lay down on the sofa with his face to the wall, his back to the window and against the world.

[363]

V

Daniel had been in Berlin for weeks. He had been living a lonely life on the east side of the gigantic city. One of the managers of Philander and Sons came to see him. He returned the call, and in the course of two hours he was surrounded, contrary to his own will, by a veritable swarm of composers, directors, virtuosos, and musical critics.

Some had heard of him; to them he appeared to be a remarkable man. They threw out their nets to catch him, but he slipped through the meshes. Unprepared, however, as he was for their schemes, he could not help being caught in time. He had to give an account of himself, to unveil himself. He found himself under obligations, interested, and so forth, but in the end they could not prevail against him: he simply passed through them.

They laughed at his dialect and his rudeness. What drew them to him was his self-respect; what annoyed them was his secretiveness; what they found odd about him was the fact that, try as they might to associate with him, he would disappear entirely from them for months at a time.

A divorced young woman, a Jewess by the name of Regina Sussmann, fell in love with him. She recognised in Daniel an elemental nature. The more he avoided her the more persistent she became. At times it made him feel good to come once again into intimate association with a woman, to hear her bright voice, her step more delicate, her breathing more ardent than that of men. But he could not trust Regina Sussmann; she seemed to know too much. There was nothing of the plant-like about her, and without that characteristic any woman appealed to him as being unformed and uncultured.

One winter day she came to see him in his barren hall room in Greifswald Street. She sat down at the piano and began to improvise. At first it was all like a haze to him. Suddenly he was struck by her playing. What he heard made a half disagreeable, half painful impression on him. He seemed to be familiar with the piece. She was playing motifs from his quartette, his “Eleanore Quartette” as he had called it. It came out that Regina Sussmann had been present at the concert given in Leipzig three years ago when the quartette was performed.

After a painful pause Regina began to ask some questions that cut him to the very heart. She wanted to know what relation, if any, the composition bore to actual life. She was trying to lift [364]the veil from his unknown fate. He thrust her from him. Then he felt sorry for her: he began to speak, with some hesitation, of his symphony. There was something bewitching, enchanting in the woman’s passionate silence and sympathy. He lost himself, forgot himself, disclosed his heart. He built up the work in words before her, pictured the seven movements like seven stairs in the tower of a temple, a glorious promenade in the upper spheres, a tragic storm with tragically cheerful pauses of memory and meditation, all accompanied by laughing genii that adorned and crowned the pillars of the structure of his dreams.

He went to the piano, began playing the melancholy leading motif and the two subsidiary themes, counterpointed them, ran into lofty crescendos, introduced variations, modulated and sang at the same time. The pupils of his eyes became distended until they shone behind his glasses like seas of green fire. Regina Sussmann fell on her knees by the piano. It may be that she was so affected by his playing that she could not act otherwise; and it may be that she wished thereby to give him visible proof of her respect and adoration. All of a sudden the woman became repulsive to him. The unleashed longing of her eyes filled him with disgust. Her kneeling position appealed to him as a gesture of mockery and ridicule: a memory had been desecrated. He sprang to his feet and rushed out of the room, leaving her behind and quite alone. He never said a word; he merely bit his lips in anger and left. When he came back home late that night, he was afraid he might meet her again; but she was not there. Only a letter lay on the table by the lamp.

She wrote that she had understood him; that she understood he had been living in the past as if in an impregnable fortress, surrounded by shadows that were not to be dispelled or disturbed by the presumption of any living human being. She remarked that she had neither intention nor desire to encroach upon his peace of mind, that she was merely concerned for his future, and was wondering how he would fight down his hunger of body and soul.

“Shameless wretch,” cried Daniel, “a spy and a woman!”

She remarked, with almost perverse humility, that she had recognised his greatness, that he was the genius she had been waiting for, and that her one desire was to serve him. That is, she wished to serve him at a distance, seeing that he could not endure her presence. She implored him to grant her this poor privilege, not merely for his own sake, but for the sake of humanity as well.

[365]

Daniel threw the letter in the stove. In the night he woke up with a burning desire for delicate contact with an untouched woman. He dreamed of a smile on the face of a seventeen-year-old girl innocently playing around him—and shuddered at himself and the thought of himself.

Shortly after this he went to Dresden, where he had some work to do in the Royal library.

People came to him anxious to place themselves at his service. Many signs told him that Regina Sussmann was making fervent propaganda for him.

One day he received a letter from a musical society in Magdeburg, asking him to give a concert there. He hesitated for a long while, and then agreed to accede to their wish. Outwardly it could not be called an unusually successful evening, but his auditors felt his power. People with the thinnest smattering of music forgot themselves and became infatuated with his arms and his eyes. An uncertain, undetermined happiness which he brought to the hearts of real musicians carried him further along on his career. For two successive winters he directed concerts in the provincial towns of North Germany. He was the first to accustom the people to strictly classical programmes. It is rare that the first in any enterprise of this kind reaps the gratitude of those who pay to hear him. Had he not desisted with such Puritanical severity from feeding the people on popular songs, opera selections, and favourite melodies, his activity would have been much better rewarded. As it was, his name was mentioned with respect, but he passed through the streets unacclaimed.

Regina Sussmann was always on hand when he gave a concert. He knew it, even if he did not see her. At times he caught sight of her sitting in the front row. She never approached him. Articles redolent with adulation appeared in the papers about him: it was manifest that she had been influential in having them written. Once he met her on the steps of a hotel. She stopped and cast her eyes to the ground; she was pale. He passed by her. Again he was filled with longing to come into intimate contact with an untouched woman. Was his heart already hungry, as she had predicted? He bit his lips, and worked throughout the whole night. He felt that he was being fearfully endangered by the prosy insipidity of the age and the world he was living in. But could he not escape the terrors of such without having recourse to a woman? The shadows receded, enveloped in sorrow, Gertrude and Eleanore, wrapped in the embrace of sisters.

[366]

“Don’t!” they cried. He saw at once that his provincial concerts were leading him to false goals, enflaming false ambitions, robbing him of his strength. He no longer found it possible to endure the sight of brilliantly lighted halls, and the over-dressed people who came empty and left untransformed. It all seemed to him like a lie. He desisted; he threw it all overboard just as the temptation was strongest, just as the Berlin Philharmonic invited him to give a concert of his own works in its hall.

He had suddenly disappeared. In less than three months his name had become a saga.

VI

He spent the summer, autumn, and winter of 1893 wandering around. Now he was in a remote Thuringian village, now in some town in the Rhön region, now in the mountains of Saxony, now in a fishing village on the Baltic. Throughout the day he worked on his manuscripts, in the evening he composed. No one except the members of the firm of Philander and Sons knew where he was. He did not dare hide himself from the people who were sending him the cheque at the end of the month.

He gradually became so unaccustomed to talking that it was only with difficulty that he could ask a hotel-keeper about the price of his room. This unrelieved silence chiselled his lips into ghastly sharpness.

He never heard from his mother or his children. He seemed to have forgotten that there were human beings living who thought of him with affection and anxiety.

The only messages he received from the world were letters that were forwarded to him at intervals of from four to five weeks by the musical firm in Mayence. These letters were written by Regina Sussmann, though they were not signed in her name: the signature at the close of each one was “The Swallow.” She addressed Daniel by the familiar Du, and not by the more conventional and polite Sie.

She told him of her life, wrote of the books she had read, the people she had met, and gave him her views on music. Her communications became in time indispensable to him; he was touched by her fidelity; he was pleased that she did not use her own name. She had a remarkable finesse and power of expression, and however ungenuine and artificial she may have appealed to him in personal association, everything she wrote seemed to him [367]to be natural and convincing. She never expressed a wish that he do something impossible and never uttered a complaint. On the other hand, there was a passion of the intelligence about her that was quite new to him; she was unlike the women he had known. And there was a fervour and certainty in her appreciation of his being before which he bowed as at the sound of a higher voice.

Though he never answered her letters, he looked forward to receiving them, and became impatient if one were overdue. He often thought of the swallow when he would step to the window on a dark night. He thought of her as an all-seeing spirit that hovered in the air. The swallow—that was fraught with meaning—the restless, delicate, swift-flying swallow. And in his mind’s eye he saw the swallow that hovered over Ægydius Place when Eberhard came to take him up to the room with the withered flowers.

He wrote to Philippina: “Decorate my graves. Buy two wreaths, and lay them on the graves.”

“You must mount to the clouds, Daniel, otherwise you are lost,” was one passage in one of the letters from the Swallow. Another, much longer, ran: “As soon as you feel one loneliness creeping over you, you must hasten into another, an unknown one. If your path seems blocked, you must storm the hedges before you. If an arm surrounds you, you must tear yourself loose, even though it cost blood and tears. You must leave men behind and move above them; you dare not become a citizen; you dare not allow yourself to be taken up with things that are dear to you; you must have no companion, neither man nor maid. Time must hover over you cold and quiet. Let your heart be encased in bronze, for music is a flame that breaks through and consumes all there is in the man who created it, except the stuff the gods have forged about their chosen son.”

Why should the picture of this red-haired Jewess, from whom Daniel had fled in terror, not have vanished? There was a Muse such as poets dream of! “Jewess, wonderful Jewess,” thought Daniel, and this word—Jewess—took on for him a meaning, a power, and a prophetic flight all its own.

“The work, Daniel Nothafft, the work,” wrote this second Rahel in another letter, “the rape of Prometheus, when are you going to lay it at the feet of impoverished humanity? The age is like wine that tastes of the earth; your work must be the filter. The age is like an epileptic body convulsed with agonies; your work [368]must be the healing hand that one lays on the diseased brow. When will you finally give, O parsimonious mortal? when ripen, tree? when flood the valley, stream?”

But the tree was in no hurry to cast off the ripened fruit; the stream found that the way to the sea was long and tortuous; it had to break through mountains and wash away the rocks. Oh, those nights of torment when an existing form crashed and fell to the earth in pieces! Oh, those hundreds of laborious nights in which there was no sleep, nothing but the excited raging of many voices! Those grey mornings on which the sun shone on tattered leaves and a distorted face, a face full of suffering that was always old and yet new! And those moonlight nights, when some one moved along singing, not as one sings with joy, but as the heretics who sat on the martyr benches of the Inquisition! Then there were the rainy nights, the stormy nights, the nights when it snowed, and when he chased after the phantom of a melody that was already half his own, and half an incorporeal thing wandering around in boundless space under the stars.

Each landscape became a pale vision: bush and grass and flower, like spun yarn seen in a fever, the people who passed by, and the clouds fibrillated above the forests were of one and the same constituency. Nothing was tangible; the palate lost its sense of taste, the finger its sense of touch. Bad weather was welcome; it subdued the noises, made men quieter. Cursed be the mill that clappers, the carpenter who drives the nails, the teamster who calls to his jaded pair, the laughter of children, the croaking of frogs, the twittering of birds! An insensate man looks down upon the scene, one who is deaf and dumb, one who would snatch all clothing and decorations from the world, to the end that neither colour nor splendour of any description may divert his eye, one who mounts to heaven at night to steal the eternal fire, and who burrows in the graves of the dead by day—an outcast.

In the beginning of spring, he started on the third movement, an andante with variations. It expressed the gruesome peace that hovered over Eleanore’s slumbering face one night before her death. The springs within him were all suddenly dried up; he could not tell why his hand was paralysed, his fancy immobile.

One evening he returned from a long journey to Arnstein, a little place in Lower Franconia, where he had then pitched his tent. He was living in the house of a seamstress, a poor widow, and as he came into the room he noticed her ten-year-old daughter standing by the open box in which he had kept the mask of [369]Zingarella. Out of a perfectly harmless curiosity the child had removed the lid, and was standing bewitched at the unexpected sight.

When Daniel’s eyes fell on her, she was frightened; her body shook with fear; she tried to run away. “No, no, stay!” cried Daniel. He felt the emaciated body, the timidly quivering figure, and a distant memory sunk its claws deep into his breast. The mouth of the mask seemed to speak; the cheeks and forehead shone with a brilliant whiteness. And as he turned his eyes away there was a little elf dancing over him; and this little elf aroused a guilty unrest in his heart.

VII

Philippina would not permit little Agnes to play with other children.

One day the child went out on to the square, and stood and watched some other children playing a game known as “Tailor, lend me the scissors.” She was much pleased at the sight of them, as they ran from tree to tree and laughed. She would have been only too happy to join them, but no one thought of asking the pale, shy little creature to take part. Philippina, seeing her, rushed out like a fury, and cried in her very meanest voice: “You come back here in the house, or I’ll maul you until your teeth will rattle in your mouth for three days to come!”

Philippina also disliked to have Jordan pay any attention to Agnes. If he did not notice that he was making her angry by talking with the child, she would begin to sing, first gently, and then more and more loudly. If this did not drive the old man away, she would unload some terrific abuse on him, and keep at it until he would get up, sigh, and leave. He did not dare antagonise her, for if he did, she would penalise him by giving him poor food and reduced portions. And he suffered greatly from hunger. He was making only a few pennies a week, and had to save every bit of it, if possible, so as to defray the expenses he was incurring while working on his invention.

He had unbounded faith in his invention; his credulity became stronger and stronger as the months rolled by. He could not be discouraged by seeming failure. He was convinced, on the contrary, that each failure merely brought him so much nearer the desired goal.

He said to Philippina: “Why is it that you object to my playing [370]once in a while with my little grand-daughter? It gives me so much pleasure; it diverts me; it takes my mind off of my troubles.”

“Crazy nonsense,” replied Philippina. “Agnes has had trouble enough with her father. Her grandfather? whew! That beats me!”

Another time the old man said: “Suppose we make an agreement: let me have the child a half-hour each day, and in return for that I’ll run your errands down town.”

Philippina: “I’ll run my own errands. Agnes belongs to me. That settles it.”

And yet Philippina was in an especially good humour about this time. Benjamin Dorn, like Herr Zittel, had left the Prudentia, and obtained a position with the Excelsior. He was taking unusual interest in Philippina. In a dark hour, Philippina had told her friend, Frau Hadebusch, that she had saved a good deal of money, and, equipped with this bit of earthly wisdom, Frau Hadebusch had gone to the Methodist, told him all about it, and put very serious matrimonial ideas in his head.

Benjamin Dorn took infinite pains to gain Philippina’s good graces. He was, to be sure, somewhat dismayed at having her blasphemous system of theology dinned into his ears. He shook his head wearily when she called him a sky-pilot and declared right out that all this sanctimonious stuff was damned rot, and that the main thing was to have a fat wallet. In this philosophy Frau Hadebusch was with her to the last exclamation point. She had told Benjamin Dorn that a doughtier, bonnier, more capable person than Fräulein Schimmelweis was not to be found on this earth, and that the two were as much made for each other as oil and vinegar for a salad. She said: “You simply ought to see the dresses the girl has and how she can fix herself up when she wants to go out. Moreover, she comes of a good family. In short, any man who could get her would be a subject for real congratulations.”

To Philippina Frau Hadebusch said: “Dorn—he can write as no one else on this earth. Oh, you ought to see him swing a pen! He limps a little, but what of it? Just think how many people go around on two sound legs, but have their heads all full of rubbish! But Dorn! He’s whole cloth and a yard wide! He’s as soft as prune juice. Why, when a dog barks at him, he gives the beast a lump of sugar. That’s the kind of a man he is.”

In October Benjamin Dorn and Philippina went to the church fair, and naturally took Agnes along. Benjamin Dorn knew what was expected of him. He had Philippina take two rides on the [371]merry-go-round, paid her way into the cabinet of wax figures, and took a chance on the lottery. It was a blank. He then explained to Philippina that it was immoral to have anything to do with lotteries, and bought her a bag of ginger snaps; and that was solid pleasure.

Philippina acted very nicely. She laughed when nothing amusing had taken place, rolled her eyes, spoke with puckered lips, shook her hips when she walked, and never lost a chance to show her learning. As they were coming home on the train, she said she felt she would like to ride in a chaise, but there would have to be two horses and a coachman with a tile hat. Benjamin Dorn replied that that was not an impossible wish, suggesting at the same time in his best brand of juvenile roguishness that there was a certain solemn ceremony that he would not think of celebrating without having a vehicle such as she had described. Philippina giggled, and said: “Oi, oi, you’re all right.” Whereupon Benjamin Dorn, grinning with embarrassment, looked down.

Then they took leave of each other, for Agnes had fallen asleep in Philippina’s arms.

How Philippina actually felt about the attention he was showing her would be extremely difficult to tell, though she acted as if she felt honoured and flattered. Benjamin Dorn was by no means certain of himself. Frau Hadebusch did all she could to bring Philippina around, but every time she made a fresh onslaught Philippina put her off.

But Philippina had never sung as she had been singing recently, nor had she ever been so light and nimble of foot. Every day she put on her Sunday dress and trimmed it with her choicest ribbons. She washed her hands with almond soap, and combed her hair before the mirror. Bangs had gone out of fashion, so she built her hair up into a tower and looked like a Chinese.

She visited Herr Carovius occasionally, and always found him alone, for Dorothea Döderlein had been sent by her father to Munich to perfect herself in her art. In broken words, with blinking eyes, from a grinning mouth and out of a dumb soul, she told Herr Carovius all about her affair with Benjamin Dorn, evidently believing that he was all fire and flame to know how she was getting along and what she had in petto. Herr Carovius had long since grown sick and tired of her, though he did not show her the door. He had reached the point where he heaved a sigh of relief when he heard a human voice, where he began to dread the stillness that ruled supreme within his four walls. No one [372]came to see him, no one spoke to him, and he in turn no longer had the courage to speak to any one. His arrogance of former days had died a difficult death, and now he saw no way of making friends. If he went to the café, there was no one there whom he knew. The brethren of the Vale of Tears had been scattered to the four corners of the earth; a new generation was having its fling; new customs were being introduced, new topics discussed, and he was old.

He found it hard to get along without Dorothea. He counted the days, waiting for her to return. He never opened the piano, because all music, and especially the music he loved, caused a melancholy depression to arise that filled the room with miasma.

The Nero of our day was suffering from Cæsar sadness. The private citizen had sunk to the very bottom of the ditch which he himself had dug with the idea of burying all that was new and joyful, and all winged creatures in it.

The worst of it all was that he had nothing to do, and no brain racking could devise a position he could fill. The world went on its way, progress was made, and, strangely enough, it was made without his criticism, his adulation, his opinions, or his crepe-hanging.

Philippina was annoyed at the grudging squints cast at her by the old stay-at-home; her visits became rarer and rarer. She did not feel like opening her heart to Frau Hadebusch, for she did not appeal to her as a disinterested party. This completed her list of friends; she was obliged to restrain her impatience and excitement.

It was Christmas. On Christmas Eve they had bought a tree for Agnes, trimmed it, and lighted it with candles. Agnes’s Christmas gifts were placed under the tree: a big piece of ginger-bread, a basket with apples and nuts, and a cheap doll. For Old Jordan she had bought a pair of boots which he badly needed. He had been going around on his uppers since autumn.

Jordan was sitting by the door holding his boots on his knees. Agnes looked at the doll with unhappy eyes; she did not dare touch it. After gazing for a while into the light of the fluttering candles, Jordan said: “I thank you, Philippina, I thank you. You are a real benefactress. I also thank you for remembering the child. It is a paltry makeshift you have bought there at the bazaar, but any one who gives gifts to children deserves the reward of Heaven, and in such giving we do not weigh the value or count the cost.”

[373]

“Don’t whine all the time so!” shrieked Philippina. She was chewing her finger nails, hardly able to conceal her embarrassment. Frau Hadebusch had told her that Benjamin Dorn was coming around that evening to make a formal proposal of marriage.

“Just wait, Agnes, just wait!” continued old Jordan, “you’ll soon get to see a wonder of a doll. A few short years, and the world will be astonished. You are going to be the first to see it when it is finished. You’ll be the first, little Agnes, just wait. What have we got to eat on this holy evening?” asked Jordan, turning with fear and trembling to Philippina.

“Cold hash and broiled meal-beetles,” said Philippina scornfully.

“And ... and ... no letter from Daniel?” he asked in a sad voice, “nothing, nothing at all?”

Philippina shrugged her shoulders. The old man got up and tottered to his room.

A little later Philippina heard some one stumbling around in the hall, and then the bell rang. “Open the door,” she said to Agnes, who did as she was told and returned with Benjamin Dorn. The Methodist wore a black suit, and in his hand he had a black felt hat that was as flat as a pancake. He bowed to Philippina, and asked if he was disturbing any one. Philippina pushed a chair over to him. He sat down quite circumstantially, and laughed a hollow laugh. As Philippina was as silent as the tomb and looked at him so tensely, he began to speak.

First he expatiated on the general advantages of a married life, and then remarked that what he personally wished first of all was to be able to take a good, true woman into his own life as his wife. He said that he had gone through a long struggle over the matter, but God had finally shown him the light and pointed the way. He no longer hesitated, after this illumination from above, to offer Fräulein Schimmelweis his heart and his hand forever and a day, insist though he must that she give the matter due consideration, in the proper Christian spirit, before taking the all-important step.

Philippina was restless; she rocked back and forth, first on one foot and then on another—and then burst out laughing. She bent over and laughed violently. “No, you poor simpleton, what you want is my money, hey? Be honest! Out with it! You want my money, don’t you?”

Her anger grew as Benjamin Dorn sat and looked on, his asinine embarrassment increasing with each second of silence. “Listen! You’d like to git your fingers on it, wouldn’t you? Money—it [374]would taste good, wouldn’t it? You think I’m crazy? Scrape a few coppers together and lose my mind and marry some poor fool, and let him loaf around and live on me. Nothing doin’! They ain’t no man livin’ what can catch Philippina Schimmelweis so easy as all that. She knows a thing or two about men, she does. D’ye hear me! Get out!” She sawed the air with her arms like a mad woman, and showed him the door.

Benjamin Dorn rose to his feet, stuttered something unintelligible, moved backwards toward the door, reached it, and left the place with such pronounced speed that Philippina once again broke out in a shrill, piercing laughter. “Come here, Agnes,” she said, sat down on the step in the corner, and took the child on her lap.

She was silent for a long while; the child was afraid to speak. Both looked at the lights on the Christmas tree. “Let us sing something,” said Philippina. She began with a hoarse, bass voice, “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,” and Agnes joined in with her high, spiritless notes.

Another pause followed after they had finished singing.

“Where is my father?” asked Agnes suddenly, without looking at Philippina. It sounded as if she had waited for years for an opportunity to ask this question.

Philippina’s face turned ashen pale; she gritted her teeth. “Your father, he’s loafing around somewhere in the country,” replied Philippina, and blew out one of the candles that had burned down and was ready to set the twig on fire. “He’s done with women, it seems, but you can’t tell. He strums the music box and smears good white paper full of crow-feet and pot-hooks. A person can rot, and little does he worry.” Whereat she set the child on the floor, hastened over to the window, opened it, and put her head out as if she were on the point of choking with the heat.

She leaned out over the snow-covered window sill.

“I’m getting cold,” said Agnes; but Philippina never heard her.

VIII

Daniel wrote to Eberhard and Sylvia asking them if he might visit them. He thought: “There are friends; perhaps I need friends again.”

He received a note in a strange, secretarial hand informing him that the Baroness was indeed very sorry but she could not receive him at Siegmundshof: she was in child-bed. She sent her best [375]greetings, and told him that the newest born was getting along splendidly, as well as his brother who was now three years old.

“Everywhere I turn, children are growing up,” thought Daniel, and packed his trunk and started south as slowly as he could go, so slowly indeed that it seemed as if he were approaching a goal he was afraid to reach and yet had to.

He arrived in Nuremberg one evening in April. As he entered the room, Philippina struck her hands together with a loud bang, and stood as if rooted to the floor.

Agnes looked at her father shyly. She had grown slim and tall far beyond her age.

Old Jordan came down. “You don’t look well, Daniel,” he said, and seemed never to let go of his hand. “Let us hope that you are going to stay home now.”

“I don’t know,” replied Daniel, staring absent-mindedly around the walls. “I don’t know.”

On the third day he was seized with a quite unusual sense of fear and anxiety. He felt that he had made a mistake; that he had lost his way; that something was driving him to another place. He went into the kitchen. Philippina was cooking potato noodles in lard; they smelt good.

“I am going to Eschenbach,” he said, to his own astonishment, for the decision to do so had come with the assertion.

Philippina jerked the pan from the stove; the flames leaped up. “You can go to Hell, so far as I’m concerned,” she said in a furious rage. With the light from the fire flaring up through the open top of the stove and reflected in her face, she looked like a veritable witch.

Daniel gazed at her questioningly. “What is the matter with Agnes?” he asked after a while. “The child seems to try to avoid me.”

“You’ll find out what’s the matter with her,” said Philippina spitefully, and placed the pan on the stove again. “She don’t swallow people whole.”

Daniel left the kitchen.

“He is going over to see his bastard, the damned scoundrel,” murmured Philippina. She crouched down on the kitchen stool, and gazed into space.

The potato noodles burned up.

[376]

IX

Daniel entered his mother’s little house in Eschenbach late at night. As soon as he saw her, he knew that some misfortune had taken place.

Eva was gone. She had disappeared one evening four weeks ago. A troupe of rope dancers had given an exhibition in the city, and it was generally suspected that they had abducted the child. The people of Eschenbach were still convinced of their suspicion after the police had rounded up the dancers without finding a trace of the child.

A general alarm had been sent out, and investigations were being made even at the time of Daniel’s arrival. But they were in vain; it was impossible to find the slightest clue. To the authorities, indeed to every one, the case was a hopeless riddle.

They made a thorough search of the forests; the canals were drained; vagabonds were cross-questioned. It was all in vain; Eva had apparently been spirited away in some mysterious fashion. Then the Mayor received an anonymous letter that read as follows: “The child you are looking for is in safe keeping. She was not forced to do what she has done; of her own free will and out of love for her art she went off with the people with whom she is at present. She sends her grandmother the tenderest of greetings, and hopes to see her some time again, after she has attained to what she now has in mind.”

To this Eva had added in a handwriting which Marian Nothafft could be reasonably certain was her own: “This is true. Good-bye, grandmother!”

The people who mourned with Marian the loss of the child were convinced that if Eva had really written these words herself, she had been forced to do it by the kidnappers.

The letter bore the postmark of a city in the Rhenish Palatinate. A telegram brought the reply that a company of jugglers had been there a short while ago, but that they had already gone. It was impossible to say in what direction, but it was most likely that they had gone to France.

Marian was completely broken up. She no longer had any interest in life. She did not even manifest joy or pleasure at seeing Daniel.

Daniel in turn felt that the brightest star had fallen from his heaven. As soon as he had really grasped the full meaning of the tragedy, he went quietly into the attic room, threw himself across [377]the bed of his lost daughter, and wept. “Man, man, are you weeping at last?” a voice seemed to call out to him.

Of evenings he would sit with his mother, and they would both brood over the loss. Once Marian began to speak; she talked of Eva. She had always been made uneasy by the child’s love for mimicry and shows of any kind. Long ago, she said, when Eva was only eight years old, a company of comedians had come to the village, and Eva had taken a passionate interest in them. She would run around the tent in which they played, from early in the morning until late in the evening. She had made the acquaintance of some of them at the time, and one of them took her along to a performance. Whenever the circus came to town, it was impossible to keep her in the house. “At times I thought to myself, there must be gipsy blood in her veins,” said Marian sadly, “but she was such a good and obedient child.”

Another time she told the following story. One Sunday in spring she took a walk with Eva. It had grown late, night had come on, and on the return journey they had to go through the forest. Marian became tired, and sat down on the stump of a tree to rest. The moon was shining, and there was a clearing in the forest where they had stopped. All of a sudden Eva sprang up and began to dance. “It was marvellous the way she danced,” said Marian, at the close of her story. “The girl’s slender, delicate little figure seemed to glide around on the moss in the moonlight of its own accord. It was marvellous, but my heart grew heavy, and I thought to myself at the time, she is not going to be with me much longer.”

Daniel was silent. “Oh, enchanting and enchanted creature!” he thought, “heredity and destiny!”

He remained with his mother for three weeks. Then he began to feel cramped and uneasy. The house and the town both seemed so small to him. He left and went to Vienna, where the custodian of the Imperial Institute had some invaluable manuscripts for him.

Six weeks later he received a letter that had followed him all over south Europe informing him of the death of his mother. The school teacher at Eschenbach had written the letter, saying, among other things, that the aged woman had died during the night, suddenly and peacefully.

A second letter followed, requesting him to state what disposition should be made of his mother’s property. He was asked whether the house was to be put on the market. A neighbour, the [378]green-grocer, had expressed his willingness to look after Daniel’s interests.

Daniel wrote in reply that they should do whatever seemed best. There was a heavy mortgage on the house, and the amount that could reasonably be asked for it was not large.

He retired to a desolate and waste place.

X

While living in little towns and villages on the Danube, Daniel completed the third movement of the Promethean symphony. When he awoke as if from a delirious fever, it was autumn.

One morning in October he heard a saint playing the organ. It was in the Church of St. Florian near Enns. The great artist had lived in former years in the monastery, and now had the habit of coming back once in a while to hold communion with his God. In his rapture, Daniel felt as if his own crowned brother were at the organ. He sat in a corner and listened, meekly and with overwhelming delight. Then when a man passed by him, a stooped, haggard, odd-looking old fellow with a wrinkled face and dressed in shabby clothes, he was terror-stricken at the reality, the corporeality of genius: he wondered whether he himself were not a ghost.

The Swallow wrote: “There is only one who can redeem us: the musician. The day of founders of religion, builders of states, military heroes, and discoverers is gone. The poets have only words, and our ears have grown tired of words, words, words. They have only pictures and figures, and our eyes are tired beholding. The soul’s last consolation is to be found in music; of this I am certain. If there is any one thing that can make restitution for the lost illusions of religious faith, provide us with wings, transform us, and save us from the abyss to which we are rushing with savage senses, it is music. Where are you, O redeemer? You are wandering about over the earth, the poorest, the most abandoned, the guiltiest of men. When are you going to pay your debts, Daniel Nothafft?”

Daniel spent seven months in Ravenna, Ferrara, Florence, and Pisa. He was looking for some manuscripts by Frescobaldi, Borghesi, and Ercole Pasquini. Having found the most important ones he could regard his collection as complete.

Men seemed to him like puppets, landscapes like paintings on glass. He longed for forests; his dreams became disordered.

[379]

From Genoa he wandered on foot through Lombardy and across the Alps. He slept on hard beds in order to keep his hot blood in check, and lived on bread and cheese. His attacks of weakness, sometimes of complete exhaustion, did not worry him at first; he paid no attention to them. But in Augsburg he swooned, falling headlong on the street. He was taken to a hospital, where he lay for three months with typhus. From his window he could see the tall chimneys of factories and an endless procession of wandering clouds. It had become winter; the ground was covered with snow.

Two years after his last visit he again entered the house on Ægydius Place. When Philippina saw him, so pale and emaciated, she uttered a cry of horror.

Agnes had grown still taller, thinner, and more serious. At times when she looked at her father he felt like crying out to her in anger: “What do you mean by your everlasting questions?” But he never said a word of this kind to her.

When Philippina saw that Daniel had returned as lonesome and uncommunicative as he was when he went away, she took it upon herself to display a great deal of gentleness, kindness, sympathy in his presence. Old Jordan was living the same life he had been living for years. Everything in fact was just the same; it seemed that the household was run according to a prescribed routine. It seemed as if Daniel had been away, not six years, but six days.

He did not feel strong yet, but he worked day and night. The fourth movement of the symphony gave promise of being a miracle of polyphony. Daniel felt primeval existence, the original of all longing, the basic grief of the world urging and pulsing in him, and this he was translating into the symphony. The eternal wanderer had arrived at the gates of Heaven and was not admitted. Supernal harmonies had borne him aloft. Muffled drum beats symbolised his beseeching raps on closed doors. Within resounded the terrible “no” of the trumpets. The pleading of the violins was in vain; in vain the intercession of the one angel standing at the right, leaning on a harp without strings; in vain the melodious chants of the other angel at the left, crowned with flowers and all together lovely; in vain the elfin chorus of the upper voices, in vain the foaming lament of the voices below. No path here for him, and no space!

One evening Daniel noticed a strange girl at his window. She was beautiful. Struck by her charms, he got up to go to her. She had vanished. It was an hallucination. He became afraid of himself, [380]left the house, and wandered through the streets as in days of long ago.

XI

It was Carnival Week, and the people had resumed their wonted gaiety. Masked boys and girls paraded the streets, making merry wherever they went.

As Daniel was passing through The Füll he was startled: the windows in the Benda house were lighted. He suddenly recalled that Herr Seelenfromm had told him that Frau Benda had returned from Worms some time ago, and was living with her niece; she had become totally blind.

He went up the steps and rang the bell. A grey-haired, distressed-looking woman came to the door. He thought she must be the niece. He told her his name; she said she had heard of him.

“You probably know that Friedrich has disappeared,” she said in a sleepy, sing-song voice. “It is eight years since we have heard from him. The last letter was from the interior of Africa. We have given up all hope. Not even the newspapers say anything more about him.”

“I have read nothing about it,” murmured Daniel. “But Friedrich cannot be dead,” he continued, shaking his head, “I will never believe it, never.” Partly in distraction and partly in anxiety, he riveted his eyes on the woman, who stared at his glasses as if held by a charm.

“We have done everything that was humanly possible,” she said. “We have written to the consulates, we have inquired of the military outposts and missionary stations, and all to no purpose.” After a pause she said with a little more vivacity: “You do not wish me to ask you in, I hope. It is so painful to my aunt to hear a strange voice, and I cannot think of letting you talk to her. If I did, it would merely open her old wounds, and she has a hard enough time of it as it is.”

Daniel nodded and went on his way. A coarse laugh could be heard down in the entrance hall; it was painfully out of harmony with the depressed atmosphere of the Benda apartment. He felt his heart grow faint; he felt a burning desire for something, though he was unable to say precisely what, something sweet and radiant.

[381]

On the last landing he stopped, and looked with utter amazement into the hall below.

Herr Carovius was dancing like a Merry-Andrew around the door of his residence. He had a crown of silver paper on his head, and was trying to ward off the importunate advances of a young girl. His smiles were tender but senile. The girl wore a carnival costume. Her dark blue velvet dress, covered with threads of silver, made her robust figure look slenderer than it actually was. A black veil-like cloth hung from her shoulders to the ground, and then draped along behind her for about three paces. It was sprinkled with glittering tinsel. In her hand she held a hideous wax mask of the face of an old sot with a red nose. She was trying to fit the mask to Herr Carovius’s face.

She was working hard to make him yield; she said she was not going to leave until she had put the mask on his face. Herr Carovius shook the door, which in the meantime had closed, fumbled about in his pockets for the key, but the girl gave him no peace.

“Come now, Teddy,” she kept crying, “come, Uncle, don’t be such an old bore.” She kept getting closer and closer to him.

“You wait, I’ll show you how to make a fool of respectable people,” croaked Herr Carovius in well-meaning anger. He resembled an old dog, hopping about and getting ready to make the plunge when his master throws his walking stick into the water. In his zeal, however, to prevent the girl from offending his dignity, he had forgotten the paper crown on his head. It wabbled and shook so when he hopped around, that the girl nearly split her sides laughing.

A maid came in just then with an apronful of snow. The girl with the sweeping train ran up to her, got some of the snow, and threatened to pelt Herr Carovius with it. He begged for mercy; and rather than undergo a bombardment with this cold stuff, he ceased offering resistance, whereupon the girl walked up to him and placed the mask on his face. Then, exhausted from laughter, she laid her head on his shoulder. The maid—it was Döderlein’s maid—was delighted at the comedy, and made a noise that resembled the cackling of a hen.

The scene was dimly lighted by a lamp attached to the adjacent wall, and had on this account, quite apart from the sight of Herr Carovius with the paper crown and the toper’s mask, something fantastic about it.

[382]

Daniel did not know that the girl was Dorothea Döderlein, though he half suspected as much. But whoever she was, he was impressed by her jollity, her actual lust for laughter, her complete lack of restraint. He had never known that sort of mirthful hilarity; and if he had known it, he could not recall it. Her youthful features, her bright eyes, her white teeth, her agile gestures filled him with deferential respect; his eyes swam with emotion. He felt so old, so foreign; he felt that where he was the sun was not shining, the flowers were not budding. He felt that life had appeared to him all of a sudden and quite unexpectedly in a new, kindly, bewitching light.

He came slowly down the steps.

“Is it possible!” cried Herr Carovius, tearing the mask from his face. “Can I trust my own eyes? It is our maestro! Or is it his ghost?”

“It is both he and his ghost,” replied Daniel drily.

“This is no place for ghosts,” cried Dorothea, and threw a snow ball, hitting him square on the shoulder.

Daniel looked at her; she blushed, and looked at Herr Carovius questioningly. “Don’t you know our Daniel Nothafft, you little ignoramus?” said Herr Carovius. “You know nothing of our coryphæus? Hail to the Master! Welcome home! He is here, covered with fame!”

At any other time Herr Carovius’s biliary sarcasm would have aroused Daniel’s whole stock-in-trade of aversion and indignation. To-day he was unimpressed by it. “How young she is,” he thought, as he feasted his eyes on the embarrassed, laughing Dorothea, “how gloriously young!”

Dorothea was angry because she did not have on the red dress she had had made in Munich.

“Dorothea!” called a strong voice from the first floor.

“Oh, there’s father!” whispered Dorothea. She was frightened. She ran up the steps on her tiptoes, dragging her long veil after her. The maid followed her.

“A devil, a regular little devil, Maestro,” said Herr Carovius turning to Daniel. “You must come in some time and hear how she can draw the bow. She’s a regular little devil, I say.”

Daniel bade Herr Carovius adieu, and went walking down the street with bowed head.

[383]

XII

In the province, Dorothea Döderlein, fresh from the Bavarian capital, was a phenomenon that attracted general attention. Her conduct seemed, to be sure, a bit liberal, but then she was an artist, and her name appeared in the newspapers every now and then, so it was only natural to make allowances for her. When she gave her first concert, Adler Hall was almost completely sold out.

The musical critic of the Herold was captivated by her capricious playing. He called her an extraordinary talent, and predicted a brilliant future for her. Andreas Döderlein accepted the congratulations in the spirit of a seasoned patron of the arts; Herr Carovius was in the seventh heaven of joy. He who had formerly been so captious never uttered a critical word. He had taken to worshipping the Dorothea cult, and this had made him quite indiscriminating.

At first Dorothea never suffered from want of invitations to all manner of clubs, dances, and family gatherings. She was much adored by the young men, so much so that other daughters of the city of matrimonial age could not sleep from envy. In a short while, however, the youth of more sterling character, warned while there was yet time by their mothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts, withdrew in fear.

Dorothea reaped the disapproval of her acquaintances by walking with her admirers in public, unchaperoned. Moreover she could frequently be seen in the company of officers in the Eisenbeiss pastry shop, drinking chocolate and having a good time generally. Once she had been seen in the society of a big blonde Swede from Schuckert’s factory coming out of the Music Hall. The rumour was spread that she had lived an irregular life in Munich, had gadded about the streets at night, contracted a number of bad debts, and flirted with all kinds of men.

Yet there were a few serious wooers who, duped by Andreas Döderlein’s diplomacy, fell into the habit of coming around on Sunday evenings and taking dinner with father and daughter. Dorothea, however, always managed to play off one against the other; and as they were all serious and provincial, they did not know precisely what to make of it. In order to instil patience into them, Döderlein took to delivering them lectures on the intricate complications of the artistic temperament, or he made [384]mysterious allusions to the handsome legacy to which Dorothea would one day fall heir.

It was this very fact, however, that made him exercise caution with regard to Dorothea. Knowing her spirit of defiance, and appreciating her youthful lack of judgment, he was afraid she might make some faux pas that would offend that old fool of a Carovius. He was already giving her a little spending money, and the Döderleins found this a highly advantageous arrangement.

The state of Döderlein’s own finances was hopeless. It was with the greatest difficulty that he kept up the appearance of a well-to-do man. The chief cause of his pecuniary embarrassment was his relation of long standing with a woman by whom he had had three children. To support this second family, of whose existence not a soul in his immediate surroundings knew a thing, burdened him with a care that made it hard for him to preserve his cheerful, Jove-like disposition.

He had been leading a double life for fourteen years. His regular visits to the woman he loved—she lived very quietly out in the remote suburbs of the city—had to be made without attracting attention. To conceal his connection with her from the vigilant eyes of his fellow citizens made constant dissimulation, discretion, and shrewdness a necessary part of his character. But to practise these traits year in and year out and suffer at the same time from economic pressure filled him with suppressed anger and fear.

He was afraid of Dorothea. There were moments when he would have liked to maul her; and yet he saw himself obliged to hold her in check with kind words. He could not see through her. But she was always around, always adding to his troubles with her plans, wishes, engagements and intrigues. He thought he had her under control, only to discover that she was a tyrant, lording it over him. Now she would burst out crying because of some bagatelle, now she was laughing as though nothing had ever happened. The roses her serious and moneyed admirers brought her she picked to pieces in their very presence, and threw the pieces in the waste-paper basket. Döderlein would lecture her in the kindest and most intelligent way on good morals and gentle manners, and she would listen as though she were a saint. Five minutes later she would be hanging out of the window, flirting with the barber’s boy across the street.

“I am an unfortunate father,” said Andreas Döderlein to himself, when, apart from all his other multifarious worries, he began [385]to be sceptical about Dorothea’s artistic ability. Shortly after her success in Nuremberg, she gave a concert in Frankfort, but everything was pretty quiet. Then she toured the small towns of central Germany, and was received everywhere with the greatest enthusiasm. But what of it? How much critical acumen is to be found in such places?

One evening she was at the home of a certain Frau Feistelmann, a woman whose past had some connection with nearly every scandal of the city. While there she met an actor by the name of Edmund Hahn. Herr Hahn had soft, blonde hair and a pale, bloated face. He was rather tall and had long legs. Dorothea raved about long legs. There was a thoroughly sensual atmosphere about the man; he devoured Dorothea with his impudent eyes. His build, his bearing, his half blasé, half emphatic way of speaking made an impression on Dorothea. He sat next to her at the table, and began to rub his feet against hers. Finally he succeeded in getting his left foot on her slipper. She tried to pull her foot back, but the more she tried the harder he bore down on it. She looked at him in amazement; but he smiled cynically, and in a few minutes they were desperately intimate. After dinner they withdrew to a hidden corner, and you could hear Dorothea giggling.

They arranged to meet each other on a certain street corner in the dark. He sent her free tickets to “Maria Stuart” and “Die Räuber.” He played the rôles of Mortimer and Kosinsky; he roared till you thought the roof would fall in. He introduced Dorothea to a number of his friends, and these brought their girl friends along, and they all sat in the Nassau Cellar till break of day. Among them was a certain Samuelsky, an employé of the Reutlinger Bank. He had the manners of a man about town, drank champagne, and went mad over Dorothea. She submitted to his attention, welcomed it in fact, and accepted presents from him, though, as it seemed, not until she had received the permission from Edmund Hahn. Once he tried to kiss her: she gave him a ringing box on the ears. He wiped his cheek, and called her a siren.

She liked the expression. At times she would stand before the mirror, and whisper: “Siren.”

When Andreas Döderlein heard of what was going on, he had an attack of mad rage. “I will put you out of the house,” he exclaimed, “I will beat you until you are a helpless, despicable cripple.” But in his eyes there was again the trace of that suppressed fear that gave the lie to his seeming berserker rage.

[386]

“An artist does not need to adapt her morals to the code of the Philistine,” remarked Dorothea, with complete imperturbability. “Those are all nice people with whom I am going. Every one of them is a gentleman.”

A gentleman: that was an argument against which it was futile to enter a caveat. In her eyes that man was a gentleman who ran risks, impressed waiters and coachmen, and wore creased trousers. “No one dares come too close to me,” she said with much pride. That was the truth; no one had thus far awakened her deepest curiosity, and she had determined to put a high price on herself. Edmund Hahn was the only one who had any influence on her; and this was true of him because he was absolutely devoid of feeling, and had a type of shamelessness that completely disarmed and terrified her.

Andreas Döderlein had to let her have her way. If he had any consolation at all, it lay in the belief on his part that a real Döderlein would never voluntarily come to grief. If Dorothea was a genuine Döderlein, she would march straight to her objective, and take by storm the good and useful things of life. If she failed, it would be proof that there was a flaw somewhere in her birth. This was his logic; and having applied it, theoretically, he enshrouded himself in the clouds of his Olympus.

Dorothea gave her uncle Carovius, however, detailed accounts of how she was making her suitors, young and old, walk the war-path. They all had to do it, the actor and the banker, the candle manufacturer and the engineer. She said she was leading the whole pack of them around by the nose. Herr Carovius’s face beamed with joy when he heard her say this. He called her his little jackanapes, and said she was the fortune of his old age. To himself he said that she was a genuine Carovius destined to great deeds.

“You don’t have to get married,” he said with the urge of a zealot of old, and rubbed his hands. “Oh, of course, if a Count comes along with a few millions and a castle in the background, why, you might think it over. But just let some greasy comedian get it into his head that he is going to steal you away from me! Or let some wabbly-hipped office-boy imagine for a minute that he is going to drag you into his circle along with his other unwashed acquaintances! If this ever happens, Dorothea, give it to ’em hot and heavy! Show the wanton satyrs what kind of blood you have in you.”

“Ah, Uncle,” said Dorothea, “I know you mean well by me. [387]You are the only one who does. But if I were only not so poor! Look at me! Look at this dress I have on! It’s a sight!” And she put her head in her uplifted arm and sobbed.

Herr Carovius pulled at his moustaches, moved his eyebrows up and down, went to his writing desk, opened his strong box, took out a hundred-mark bill, and gave it to her with turned head, as if he were afraid of the wrath of the protecting spirit of the money chest.

This was the state of affairs when Daniel met the youthful Dorothea in Herr Carovius’s home, and went away with an unforgettable, unextinguishable picture of her in his soul.

XIII

Daniel’s approaching fortieth birthday seemed like a sombre portal leading to the realm of spent ambition. “Seize what remains to be seized,” a voice within him cried. “Grass is growing on the graves.”

His senses were at war with his intellect and his heart. He had never looked on women as he was looking on them now.

One day he went out to Siegmundshof. Eberhard was not at home. Sylvia’s face showed traces of subdued sadness. She had three children, each one more beautiful than the other, but when her eyes rested on them her heart was filled with grief. Women whose married life is unhappy have dull, lifeless features; their hands are transparent and yellow.

Daniel took leave more quickly than he had wished or intended. He felt an egoistic aversion to the joyless sons of man.

He went to see Herr Carovius. The laughing one whom he sought was not at home.

Herr Carovius looked at him at times distrustfully. The face of his former foe set him to thinking. It was furrowed like a field under cultivation and burnt like a hearthstone. It was the face of a criminal, crabbed, enervated, tense, and breathed upon, it seemed, by threatening clouds. Herr Carovius was a connoisseur of faces.

In order to avoid the discomfort of fatuous conversation, Daniel played a number of old motetts for Herr Carovius. Herr Carovius was so pleased that he ran into his pantry, and got a half dozen Boxdorf apples and put them in Daniel’s pockets. He bought these apples every autumn by the peck, and cherished them as so many priceless treasures.

[388]

“At the sound of such music it would not be difficult to become a real Christian,” he said.

“There is spring in them,” said Daniel, “they are art that is as innocent as new seed in the soil. But your piano needs tuning.”

“Symbolic, symbolic, my dear friend,” cried Herr Carovius, and puffed out his cheeks. “But you come back another time, and you will find it in the pink of condition. Come frequently, please. You will reap the reward of Heaven if you do.”

Herr Carovius begging for company; it was touching. Daniel promised to bring some of the manuscripts he had been collecting along with him. When he returned a few days later, Dorothea was there; and from then on she was always there. His visits became longer and longer. When Herr Carovius noticed that Dorothea was coming to see him more frequently now, he moved heaven and earth to persuade Daniel to come more frequently. He rained reproach and abuse on him if he failed to come; if he was late, he greeted him with a sour face and put indiscreet questions to him. When he was alone of an afternoon, time stood still. He was like a drinker tantalised by seeing his accustomed portion of brandy on the table but just beyond his reach. The company of these two people, Daniel and Dorothea, had become as indispensable to his happiness as in former years the reading of the newspapers, the brethren of the Vale of Tears, the troubles of Eberhard and the funerals were indispensable if he were to feel at ease. It is the way of the small citizen: each of his customs becomes a passion.

When Daniel played the old chorals, Dorothea listened quietly, though it could not be said that she was perfect at concealing her tedium.

One time they began talking about Dorothea’s violin playing. Herr Carovius asked her to play something. She declined without the slightest display of affectation. Daniel said nothing to encourage her; he found that this modesty was becoming to her; he believed that he detected wisdom and resignation in her behaviour; he smiled at her graciously.

“Tell us a story, Daniel,” she said, “that would be better.” It eventually came out that that was what she had wanted all along.

“I am a poor raconteur,” said Daniel. “I have a thick tongue.”

She begged him, however, with stammering words and beseeching gestures. Herr Carovius tittered. Daniel took off his glasses, polished them, and looked at the young girl with squinting eyes. [389]It seemed as if the glasses had made it difficult for him to see Dorothea distinctly, or as if he preferred to see her indistinctly. “I really don’t know what I could tell in the way of a story,” he replied, shaking his head.

“Tell us everything, anything,” cried Dorothea, seized with a veritable fit of eagerness to hear him talk. She stretched out her hands toward him: that seemed to him to be so like a child. He had never told stories to a child; he had never in truth told stories to any one. Gertrude and Eleanore had, to be sure, forced a confession or a complaint from him at times, but that was all, and all that was necessary or appropriate.

Suddenly he was drawn on by the word in which his fate would be quietly reflected; by the fiery young eye in the brilliancy of which the complex became simple, the dark bright; by the wicked old man to whom the whole world, as seen from his mire, had become a poisonous food.

And with his brittle, staccato voice he told of the countries through which he had journeyed; of the sea and the cities by the sea; of the Alps and the Alpine lakes; of cathedrals, palaces, and marvellous monasteries; of the queer people he had met, of his work and his loneliness. It was all incoherent, arid, and loveless. Though sorely tempted, he desisted from mentioning things that came close to his soul; things that moved his heart, fired his brain. When he told of the Jewess, the Swallow, he did not even finish the sentence. He made a long pause, and then shifted to the account of his visit to Eschenbach. Here he stopped again before he was through.

But Dorothea began to ask questions. It was all too general and therefore unsatisfactory. “What was there in Eschenbach? Why did you go there?” she asked boldly.

He was in error concerning the hot desire that burned in her eyes to know about Eschenbach. Her question made him feel good; he believed that he was on the scent of warm-heartedness; he thought he had found a soul that was eager to help through knowledge. He was seized with the desire of the mature man to fashion an untouched soul in harmony with the picture of his dreams. “My mother used to live there,” he replied hesitatingly, “she has died.”

“Yes—and?” breathed Dorothea. She saw that that was not all.

He felt that this uncompromising reticence was not right; he felt a sense of guilt. With still greater hesitation—and immediate repentance—he added: “A child of mine also lived there; she was [390]eleven years old. She has disappeared; no one knows where she is.”

Dorothea folded her hands, “A child? And disappeared? Simply vanished?” she whispered excitedly.

Herr Carovius looked like a man sitting on a hot iron. “Eleven years old?” he asked, hungry for sensation, “why—that was, then—before the time ...”

“Yes, it was before the time,” said Daniel gloomily and by way of confirmation. He had betrayed himself, and was angry at himself for having done so. He became silent; it was impossible to get him to say another word.

Herr Carovius noticed how Dorothea hung on Daniel’s eyes. A tormenting suspicion arose in him. “Yesterday out on St. Joseph’s Place, I was talking with one of your admirers, the fellow who shatters the wings of the stage with his ranting,” he began with malice aforethought. “The blade had the nerve to say to me: ‘You’d better hurry up and get Dorothea Döderlein a husband, or people will talk their tongues loose in their throats.’”

“That is not true,” cried Dorothea indignantly, blushing to the roots of her hair. “He didn’t say that.”

Herr Carovius laughed malevolently. “Well, if it is not true, it is pretty well put together,” he said with his usual bleat.

When Daniel left, Dorothea accompanied him to the outside door.

“It’s a pity,” murmured Daniel, “a pity!”

“Why a pity? I am free. There isn’t a soul in the world who has any claim on me.” She looked at him with the courage of a real woman.

“There are remarks that are just like grease spots,” he replied.

“Well, who can keep from the dirt these days?” she asked, almost wild with excitement.

Daniel let his eyes rest on her as though she were some material object. He said slowly and seriously: “Keep your hands and your eyes off of me, Dorothea. I will bring you no happiness.”

Her lips opened, thirsty. “I should like to take a walk with you some time,” she whispered, and her features trembled with an ecstasy which he was dupe enough to believe was meant for him; in reality Dorothea was thinking of the adventurer and the disclosure of the secret.

“Many years ago,” said Daniel, “you will scarcely recall it, I protected you here in this very same gateway from a big dog. Do you remember?”

[391]

“No! Or do I? Wait a minute! Yes, I remember, that is, quite indistinctly. You did that?” Dorothea seized his hands with gratitude.

“Fine! Then we will go walking to-morrow morning. Where? Oh, it doesn’t make much difference,” said Daniel.

“But you must tell me everything, you hear? everything.” Dorothea was as insistent as she had been in the room a short while ago; and she was more impetuous and impatient.

They agreed upon the place where they would meet.

XIV

At first they took short walks in remote parts of the city; then they took longer ones. On Mid-Summer Day they strolled out to Kraftshof and the grove of the Pegnitz shepherds. Daniel made unconscious effort to avoid the places where he had once walked with Eleanore.

There came moments when Dorothea’s exuberance made him pensive and sad; he felt the weight of his forty years; they were inclined to make him hypochondriacal. Was it the vengeance of fate that made him slow up when they came to a hill, while Dorothea ran on ahead and waited for him, laughing?

She did not see the flowers, the trees, the animals, or the clouds. But when she saw people a change came over her: she would become more active; or she would mobilise her resources; or she seemed to strike up a spiritual liaison with them. It might be only a peasant boy on an errand or a vagabond going nowhere; she would shake her hips and laugh one note higher.

“Her youth has gone to her head, like wine,” Daniel thought to himself.

Once she took a box of chocolate bon-bons along. Having had enough of them herself and seeing that Daniel did not care for them, she threw what was left away. Daniel reproached her for her wastefulness. “Why drag it along?” she asked with perfect lack of embarrassment, “when you have enough of a thing you throw it away.” She showed her white teeth, and took in one deep breath of fresh air after another.

Daniel studied her. “She is invulnerable,” he said to himself; “her power to wish is invincible, her fulness of life complete.” He felt that she bore a certain resemblance to his Eva; that she was one of those elves of light in whose cheerfulness there is occasionally [392]a touch of the terrible. He decided then and there not to let mischievous chance have its own way: he was going to put out his hand when he felt it was advisable.

“When are you going to begin to tell me the stories?” she asked: “I must, I must know all about you,” she added with much warmth of expression. “There are days and nights when I cannot rest. Tell me! Tell me!”

That was the truth. In order to penetrate his life history, which she pictured to herself as full of passionate, checkered events, she had done everything that he had demanded of her.

Daniel refused; he was silent; he was afraid he would darken the girl’s pure mind, jeopardise her unsuspecting innocence. He was afraid to conjure up the shadows.

One day she was talking along in her easy way, and while so doing she tripped herself up. She had begun to tell him about the men she had been going with; and before she knew what she was doing, she had fallen into the tone she used when she talked with her Uncle Carovius. Becoming suddenly aware of her indiscretion, she stopped, embarrassed. Daniel’s serious questions caused her to make some confessions she would otherwise never have thought of making. She told a goodly number of rather murky and ugly stories, and it was very hard for her to act as though she were innocent or the victim of circumstances. At last, unable longer to escape from the net she had woven, she made a clean breast of her whole life, painted it all in the gaudiest colours, and then waited in breathless—but agreeable—suspense to see what effect it would have on Daniel.

Daniel was silent for a while; then he made a motion with his outstretched hand as if he were cutting something in two: “Away from them, Dorothea, or away from me!”

Dorothea bowed her head, and then looked at him timidly from head to foot. The decisiveness with which he spoke was something new to her, though it was by no means offensive. A voluptuous shudder ran through her limbs. “Yes,” she whispered girlishly, “I am going to put an end to it. I never realised what it all meant. But don’t be angry, will you? No, you won’t, will you?”

She came closer to him; her eyes were filled with tears. “Don’t be angry at me,” she said again, “poor Dorothea can’t help it. She is not responsible for it.”

“But how did you come to do it?” asked Daniel. “I can’t see how it was possible. Weren’t you disgusted to the very bottom of your soul? How could you go about under God’s free heavens [393]with such hyenas? Why, girl, the very thought of it fills me with scepticism about everything.”

“What should I have done, Daniel?” she said, calling him by his baptismal name for the first time. She spoke with a felicitous mixture of submissiveness and boldness that touched and at the same time enchanted him. “What should I have done? They come and talk to you, and spin their nets about you; and at home it is so dreary and lonely, and your heart is so empty and Father is so mean, you haven’t got anybody else in the world to talk to.” Such was her defence, effective even if more voluble than coherent.

They walked on. They were passing through a valley in the forest. On either side were tall pine trees, the crowns of which were lighted by the evening sun.

“You can’t play with Fate, Dorothea,” said Daniel. “It does not permit smudging or muddling, if we are to stand the test. It keeps a faultless ledger; the entries it makes on both sides are the embodiment of accuracy. Debts that we contract must always be paid, somehow, somewhere.”

Dorothea felt that he was getting started; that the great, good story was about to come. She stopped, spread her shawl on the ground, and took a graceful position on it, all eyes and ears. Daniel threw himself on the moss beside her.

And he told his story—into the moss where little insects were creeping around. He never raised either his eye or his voice. At times Dorothea had to bend over to hear him.

He told about Gertrude, her torpor, her awakening, her love, her resignation. He told about Eleanore; told how he had loved her without knowing it. He told how Eleanore, out of an excess of passion and suffering, became his, how Gertrude wandered about dazed, unhappy, lost, until she finally took her life: “Then we went up to the attic, and found it on fire and her lifeless body hanging from the rafter.”

He told how Gertrude had lived on as a shadow by the side of Eleanore, and how Eleanore became a flower girl, and how Philippina the inexplicable, and still inexplicable, had come into his family, and how Gertrude’s child lived there like an unfed foundling, and how the other child, the child he had had by the maid, had found such a warm spot in his heart.

He told of his meeting the two sisters, their speaking and their remaining silent, his seeing them in secret trysts, the moving about from house to house and room to room, the singing of songs, his experiences with the Dörmaul opera company, the light thrown [394]on his drab life by a mask, his friend and the help he had received from him, his separation from him, the brush-maker’s house on St. James’s Place, the three queer old maids in the Long Row, the days he spent at Castle Erfft, the old father of the two sisters and his strange doings—all of this he described in the tone of a man awakening from a deep sleep. There was a confidence in what he said and the way he said it that mayhap terrified the hovering spirits of the evening, though it did not fill Dorothea’s eyes, then glistening like polished metal, with a more intimate or cordial light.

When he looked up he felt he saw two sombre figures standing on the edge of the forest; he felt he saw the two sisters, and that they were casting mournful, reproachful glances at him.

He got up. “And all that,” he concluded, “all that has been drunk up, like rain by the parched earth, by a work on which I have been labouring for the past seven years. For seven years. Two more years, and I will give it to the world, provided this unsteady globe has not fallen into the sun by that time.”

Dorothea had a confused, haphazard idea as to the type of man that was standing before her. She was seized with a prickling desire for him such as she had thus far never experienced. She began to love him, in her way. Something impelled her to seek shelter by him, near him, somewhat as a bird flies under the crown of a tree at the approach of a storm. Daniel interpreted the timidity with which she put her arm in his as a sign of gratitude.

And in this mood he took her back to the city.

XV

It was in this pulsing, urging, joyful mood that Daniel worked at and completed the fifth movement of his symphony, a scherzo of grand proportions, beginning with a clarinet figure that symbolised laughing sans-souci. All the possibilities of joy developed from this simple motif. Nor was retrospection or consolation lacking. If the main themes, mindful of their former pre-eminence, seemed inclined to widen the bed of their stream, they were appeased and forced back into their original channel by artistic and capriciously alternating means. Once all three themes flowed along together, gaining strength apparently through their union, rose to a wonderful fugue, and seemed to be just on the point of gaining the victory when the whole orchestra, above the chord in D sevenths, was seized by the waltz melody, those melancholy sister-strains [395]were taken up by the violins, and fled, dirge-like, to their unknown abodes. Just before the jubilant crescendo of the finale, a bassoon solo held one of them fast on its distant, grief-stricken heights.

Daniel sketched the sixth movement in the following fourteen nights.

He was fully aware of the fact that he had never been able to work this way before. When a man accomplishes the extraordinary, he knows it. It seizes him like a disease, and fills him like a profound dream.

At times he felt as though he must tell some one about it, even if it were only Herr Carovius. But once the flame had died down, he could not help but laugh at the temptation to which he had felt himself subjected. “Patience,” he thought, feeling more assured than ever, “patience, patience!”

Since his work on the manuscripts was completed and his connection with the firm of Philander and Sons dissolved, he began to look around for another position. He had saved in the course of the last few years four thousand marks, but he wished to keep this sum intact.

He learned that the position of organist at the Church of St. Ægydius was vacant; he went to the pastor, who recommended him to his superiors. It was decided that he should play something before the church consistory. This he did one morning in October. The trial proved eminently successful to his exacting auditors.

He was appointed organist at St. Ægydius’s at a salary of twelve hundred marks a year. When he played on Sundays and holidays, the people came into the church just to hear him.

XVI

Among the suitors for the hand of Dorothea on whom Andreas Döderlein looked with special favour was the mill owner, a man by the name of Weisskopf. Herr Weisskopf was passionately fond of music. He had greatly admired Dorothea when she gave her concert, and had sent her a laurel wreath.

One day Herr Weisskopf came in and took dinner with the Döderleins. When he left, Döderlein said to his daughter: “My dear Dorothea, from this day on you may consider yourself betrothed. This admirable man desires to have you as his lawfully wedded wife. It is a great good fortune; the man is as rich as Crœsus.”

[396]

Instead of making a reply, Dorothea laughed heartily. But she knew that the time had come when something had to be done. Her mobile face twitched with scorn, fear, and desire.

“Think it over; sleep on it. I have promised Herr Weisskopf to let him know to-morrow,” said Döderlein, black-browed.

A week before this, Andreas Döderlein, confidently expecting that Herr Weisskopf would ask for the hand of his daughter, had borrowed a thousand marks from him. The miller had loaned him the money believing that he was thereby securing a promissory note on Dorothea. Döderlein had placed himself under obligations, and was consequently determined to carry out his plans with regard to the marriage of his daughter.

But Dorothea’s behaviour made it safe to predict that objections would be raised on her part. Döderlein was in trouble; he sought distraction. Sixteen years ago he had begun an opus entitled “All Souls: a Symphonic Picture.” Five pages of the score had been written, and since then he had never undertaken creative work. He rummaged around in his desk, found the score, went to the piano, and tried to take up the thread where he had lost it sixteen years ago. He tried to imagine the intervening time merely as a pause, an afternoon siesta.

It would not go. He sighed. He sat before the instrument, and stared at the paper like a schoolboy who has a problem to solve but has forgotten the rule. He seemed to lament the loss of his artistic ability. He felt so hollow. The notes grinned at him; they mocked him. His thoughts turned involuntarily to the miller. He improvised for a while. Dorothea stuck her head in the door and sang: “Rhinegold, Rhinegold, pu-re gold.”

He was enraged; he got up, slammed the lid of the piano, took his hat and top coat, left the house, and went out to see his friend in the suburbs.

When he returned that night, he saw Dorothea standing in the door with a man. It was the actor, Edmund Hahn. They were carrying on a heated conversation in whispers. The man was holding Dorothea by the arm, but when Döderlein became visible from the unlighted street, he uttered an ugly oath and quickly disappeared.

Dorothea looked her father straight, and impudently, in the face, and followed him into the dark house.

When they were upstairs and had lighted the lamp, Döderlein turned to her, and asked her threateningly: “What do you mean by these immodest associations? Tell me! I want an answer!”

[397]

“I don’t want to marry your flour sack. That’s my answer,” said Dorothea, with a defiant toss of her head.

“Well, we’ll see,” said Döderlein, pale with rage and ploughing through his hair with his fingers, “we’ll see. Get out of here! I have no desire to lose my well-earned sleep on account of such an ungrateful hussy. We’ll take up the subject again to-morrow morning.”

The next morning Dorothea hastened to Herr Carovius. “Uncle,” she stammered, “he wants to marry me to that flour sack.”

“Yes? Well, I suppose I’ll have to visit that second-rate musician in his studio again and give him a piece of my mind. In the meantime be calm, my child, be calm,” said he, stroking her brown hair, “Old Carovius is still alive.”

Dorothea nestled up to him, and smiled: “What would you say, Uncle,” she began with a knavish and at the same time unusually attentive expression in her face, “if I were to marry Daniel Nothafft? You like him,” she continued in a flattering tone, and held him fast by the shoulder when he started back, “you like him, I know you do. I must marry somebody; for I do not wish to be an old maid, and I can’t stand Father any longer.”

Herr Carovius tore himself loose from her. “To the insane asylum with you!” he cried. “I would rather see you go to bed with that meal sack. Is the Devil in you, you prostitute? If your skin itches, scratch it, so far as I am concerned, but take a stable boy to do it, as Empress Katherine of blessed memory did. Buy fine dresses, bedizen yourself with tom-foolery of all shades and colours, go to dances and lap up champagne, make music or throw your damn fiddle on the dung heap, do anything you want to do, I’ll pay for it; but that green-eyed phantast, that lunk-headed rat-catcher, that woman-eater and music-box bird, no, no! Never! Send him humping down the stairs and out the front door! For God’s sake and the sake of all the saints, don’t marry him! Don’t, I say. If you do, it’s all off between you and me.”

There was such a look of hate and fear in Herr Carovius’s face that Dorothea was almost frightened. His hair was as towsled as the twigs of an abandoned bird’s nest; water was dripping from the corners of his mouth; his eyes were inflamed; his glasses were on the tip of his nose.

Nothing could have made Dorothea more pleased with the story Daniel had told her than Herr Carovius’s ravings. Her eyes were opened wide, her mouth was thirsty. If she had hesitated at times before, she did so no more. She loved money; greed was a part [398]of her make-up from the hour she was born. But if Herr Carovius had laid the whole of his treasures at her feet, and said to her, “You may have them if you will renounce Daniel Nothafft,” she would have replied, “Your money, my Daniel.”

Something terribly strange and strong drew her to the man she had just heard so volubly cursed. That sensual prickling was of a more dangerous violence and warmth in his presence than in that of any other man she had ever known; and she had known a number. To her he was a riddle and a mystery; she wanted to solve the one and clear up the other. He had possessed so many women, indubitably more than he had confessed to her; and she wished now to possess him. He was so quiet, so clever, so resolute: she wanted his quietness, his cleverness, his resoluteness. She wanted everything he had, his charm, his magic, his power over men, all that he displayed and all that he concealed.

She thought of him constantly; she thought in truth of no one else, and nothing else. Her thoughts fluttered about his picture, shyly, greedily, and as playfully as a kitten. He had managed to bring will power and unity into her senses. She wanted to have him.

The rain beat against the window. Terrified at Dorothea’s thoughtfulness, Herr Carovius pressed his hands to his cheeks. “I see, I see, you want to leave me all alone,” he said in a tone that sounded like the howling of a dog in the middle of the night. “You want to deceive me, to surrender me to the enemy, to leave me nothing, nothing but the privilege of sitting here and staring at my four walls. I see, I see.”

“Be still, Uncle, nothing is going to happen. It is all a huge joke,” said Dorothea with feigned good humour and kind intentions. She walked to the door slowly, looking back every now and then with a smile on her face.

XVII

It was early in the morning when Dorothea rang Daniel’s bell. Philippina opened the door, but she did not wish to let Dorothea in. She forced an entrance, however, and, standing in the door, she inspected Philippina with the eye of arrogance, always a clear-sighted organ.

“Look out, Philippin’, there’s something rotten here,” murmured Philippina to herself.

[399]

Daniel was at work. He got up and looked at Dorothea, who carefully closed the door.

“Here I am, Daniel,” she said, and breathed a sigh of relief, like a swimmer who has just reached the land.

“What is it all about?” asked Daniel, seemingly ill inclined to become excited.

“I have done what you wanted me to do, Daniel: I have broken away from them. I cannot tolerate Father a minute longer. Where should I go if not to you?”

Daniel went up to her, and laid his hands on her shoulders. “Girl, girl!” he said as if to warn her. He felt uneasy.

They looked into each other’s eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Daniel was apparently trying to peer into the innermost recesses of her soul. Dorothea’s eyes sparkled with daring; she did not lower her lids. Suddenly, as if moved from within, Daniel bent over and kissed her on the forehead.

“You know who I am,” he said, and walked back and forth in the room. “You know how I have lived and how I am living at present. I am a guilty man, and a lonely man. My nature craves tenderness, but is unable to give tenderness in return. My lot is a hard one, and whoever decides to share it with me must be able to bear her part of this hardness. I am frequently my own enemy and the enemy of those who mean well by me. I am not a humourist, and make a poor impression in society. I can be gruff, offensive, spiteful, irreconcilable, and revengeful. I am ugly, poor, and no longer young. Are you not afraid of your twenty-three years, Dorothea?”

Dorothea shook her head vigorously.

“Test yourself, Dorothea, examine yourself,” he continued urgently, “don’t be too inexact, too careless with me, nor with yourself. Study the situation from all sides, so that we may make no false calculations. Fate, you know, is fate. Love can get control of me more than I can get control of myself, and when this takes place I will do everything in my power. But I must have confidence, unlimited confidence. If I were to lose confidence, I should be like a mortal proscribed to Hell, an outcast, an evil spirit. Examine yourself, Dorothea. You must know what you are doing; it is your affair, and it is a sacred one.”

“I cannot do otherwise, Daniel!” cried Dorothea, and threw herself on his bosom.

“Then God be merciful to us,” said Daniel.

[400]

XVIII

Daniel took Dorothea over to Sylvia von Erfft’s at Siegmundshof. He had written to her, given her all the details, explained the entire situation, and begged her to take Dorothea in and entertain her until the day of the wedding. Sylvia had shown herself most obliging in the matter; she met his requests with unaffected cordiality.

Dorothea had spent two nights at home, during which she had succeeded in evading all explanations with her father. She did this by having him agree to give her three days to think it over. On the morning of the third day, after her father had gone to the conservatory, she packed up her belongings and left the house.

Andreas Döderlein found the following letter from her: “Dear Father: Abandon all your hopes with regard to my marrying Herr Weisskopf. I am of age and can marry whomsoever I wish. I have already made my choice. The man who is going to lead me to the altar is called Daniel Nothafft. He loves me perhaps even more than I deserve, and I will make him a good wife. This is my unalterable decision, and you yourself will certainly come to see that it is nobler to obey the impulses of one’s own heart than to allow one’s self to be led on and blinded by material considerations. Your loving daughter, Dorothea.”

Andreas Döderlein had a sinking spell. The letter slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor. Trembling in his whole body, he walked up to the covered table, took a glass and hurled it against the wall. The glass broke into a thousand pieces. “I will choke you, you impious toad!” he panted, shook his clenched fist, went to Dorothea’s room, and, seized with boundless wrath, upset the chairs and the little dressing table.

The maid, terrified, ran into the living room. She saw Dorothea’s letter lying on the floor, picked it up, and read it. When she heard her mad master returning, she ran down stairs to the ground floor, rang Herr Carovius’s bell, and showed him the letter. His face turned yellow as he read it. The maid uttered a shrill, piercing cry, snatched the letter from Herr Carovius’s hands, and ran out into the court, for she heard Andreas Döderlein stumbling down the steps. He wanted to call the police and have them lock up the abductor of his daughter. Catching sight of Herr Carovius in the hall, he stopped and fixed his eyes on him. In them there was a sea of anger; and yet it was obvious that Andreas Döderlein was eager to ask a question or two. It seemed indeed [401]that just one conciliatory statement, even a single gesture on the part of the man whom he had scrupulously avoided for years, would make bye-gones be bye-gones and convert two implacable foes into friends, colleagues indeed in the business of revenge and punishment.

But Herr Carovius was done with the world. His face was distorted; grimaces of unrelieved meanness furrowed his brow; his contempt knew no bounds. He turned about and slammed the door leading into his apartment with a bang that showed his intention of shutting himself up in his own stronghold.

Andreas Döderlein got as far as the entrance to the Town Hall. There he was suddenly seized with grave doubts. He stared at the pavement for a while, sad and sinister, and then started back home. His steps were not half so impetuous as they had been on the way over; they gave evidence of weakened will and fading energy.

Hardly had he reached home when Daniel was announced. “You have the boldness, Sir,” he cried out to Daniel on his entering. “You have the boldness to appear in my sight? By the gods above, you are going far!”

“I will accept any challenge you make,” said Daniel, with the chilly dignity that was characteristic of him in such circumstances and that never failed to have a sobering effect on his potential antagonist. “I have nothing to fear. I should like to live in peace with the father of my wife, and for this reason I have come to you.”

“Do you know what you are doing to me? You have stolen my daughter, man!” cried Döderlein with pathos. “But just wait. I will checkmate your plans. I will make you feel the full measure of my power.”

Daniel smiled contemptuously. “I am certain of that,” he replied. “I will feel your power as long as I live; I have always felt it. But I have never submitted to it, and up to the present I have always been able to break it. Think it over! Recall my past history! And devote a few of your meditative moments to your child. Adieu!” With that Daniel left.

Andreas Döderlein was ill at ease. The man’s smile followed him wherever he went. What could the desperado be planning? A bad conscience paralyses evil determinations. For more than a week, Döderlein waged perpetual war with his pride. And then? Daniel did not allow himself to be seen; he received no news of any kind from Dorothea; and, climax of it all, Herr Weisskopf [402]notified him that his note for one thousand marks, with interest, was due. Döderlein saw that there was nothing to be done about it all except to recognise the dénouement as a fact and not as a stage scene. And one day he hobbled up the steps of the house on Ægydius Place.

“I am glad to see you,” said Daniel as he reached out his hand to his visitor.

Andreas Döderlein spoke of a father’s bleeding heart, of the crushing of proud hopes, of the impiety of youth, and the lonesomeness of old age. And then, rather disconnectedly, beating a tattoo with the fingers of his big hand on the top of the table, he spoke of the constraint in which he found himself with reference to the opulent owner of the mill. He told Daniel he had gone on a man’s note, had been suddenly obliged to redeem the note, and not having so much ready money at his disposal, had accepted a loan from the rich aspirant for Dorothea’s hand.

Daniel was forced to admit that his troubles were humiliating and that the money would have to be raised. Döderlein said it amounted to fifteen hundred marks. He was surprised himself when he mentioned the sum which assured him a clear gain of fifty per cent. It had been a clever idea, serving as it did to put the generosity of his future son-in-law to test. At the bottom of his heart he felt that his action was dishonourable, and was consequently touched when Daniel, giving this inroad on his savings but a moment’s thought, promised to send him the money the following day.

“You make me feel ashamed of myself, Daniel, really you do. Let us bury the hatchet! We are after all colleagues in Apollo. Or aren’t we? Call me Father, and I will call you Son! Address me with Du, and I will follow your example.”

Daniel gave him his hand without saying a word.

Döderlein asked about Dorothea; and when Daniel told him where she was, he seemed quite contented. “Tell her my house and my arms are open to her; tell her of the change in the constellation,” he said softly. “We have both done each other injustice and have both repented.”

Daniel replied quite conventionally that he thought it better to leave Dorothea with Sylvia von Auffenberg.

“As you wish, my son,” said Andreas Döderlein, “I bow to the claims of your young happiness. Now we should have a bottle of Malvoisie or Moselle, so that I can drink to the health of my dear, unruly daughter. Or don’t you care to?”

[403]

Daniel went to send Philippina to the Golden Posthorn. But Philippina had gone out with Agnes. He saw one of the maids from one of the other apartments standing on the steps, and got her to run the errand. It was a long while before she returned, and when the wine was finally poured out, Döderlein had not time to drink: he was scheduled to give a lecture in the conservatory at seven. He drank about half of his glass, and then took hasty leave of Daniel, shaking his hand with unwonted fervour.

Daniel sat for a while thinking it all over. There was a knock at the door, and old Jordan came in. “May I?” he asked.

Daniel nodded. Jordan took a seat on the chair Döderlein had been sitting on. He looked into Daniel’s face quizzically. “Is it true, Daniel, that you are going to get married again? That you are going to marry the Döderlein girl?”

“Yes, Father, it is true,” replied Daniel. He got a fresh glass, filled it, and pushed it over to the old man. “Drink, Father!” he said.

The old man sipped the wine with an air of adoration. “It must be nine or ten years since I have had any wine,” he said more or less to himself.

“You have not had a happy life,” replied Daniel.

“I will not complain, Daniel. I bear it because I have to. And who knows? Perhaps there is still a measure of joy in store for me. Perhaps; who knows?”

The two men sat in silence and drank. It was so still that you could hear the fluttering of the light in the lamp.

“Where can Philippina be?” asked Daniel.

“Yes, Philippina. I had forgot to tell you,” began old Jordan sorrowfully. “She came to me this afternoon, and told me she was going over to Frau Hadebusch’s with Agnes and was going to stay there until after the wedding. But she spoke in such a confused way that I couldn’t make out just what she planned to do. It sounded in fact as though she were thinking of leaving the house for good and all. I wonder whether the girl isn’t a little off in her head? Day before yesterday I heard an awful racket in the kitchen; and when I went down, I saw at least six plates lying on the floor all smashed to pieces. And as if this was not enough, she threatened to throw the dishwater on me. She was swearing like a trooper. Now tell me: how is this? Can she go over to Frau Hadebusch’s, and take Agnes with her without getting any one’s consent?”

Daniel made no reply. The thought of Philippina filled him [404]with anguish; he feared some misfortune. He felt that he would have to let her have her way.

XIX

In the night Daniel became very much excited. He left the house, and, despite the darkness and the snow storm, wandered out to the country quite unmindful of the cold and snow and the wind.

He listened to the whisperings of his soul; he took council with himself. He looked up at the great black vaulted arch of heaven as though he were beseeching the powers above to send him the light he felt he needed. The morning of the approaching day seemed bleaker, blacker to him than the night that was passing. He was lost in anxiety: he went over to his graves.

He did not stop to think until well on his way that the gate to the cemetery would be closed; but he kept on going. He looked around for a place in the wall where he might climb over. Finally he found one, climbed up, scratched his hands painfully, leaped down into some snow-covered hedges, and then wandered around with his burden of grief over the stormy, desolate field of the dead. As he stood before Gertrude’s grave he was overwhelmed with the feeling of the hour: there were voices in the storm; he felt that the horror and the memory of it all would hurl him to the ground. But when he stood by the grave of Eleanore, he felt his peace return. The clouds suddenly opened on the distant horizon, and a moonbeam danced about him.

It was almost morning when he reached home.

A week later he went over to Siegmundshof and got Dorothea.

Sylvia and Dorothea came down through a snow-covered alley to meet him. They were walking arm in arm, and Sylvia was laughing at Dorothea’s easy-flowing conversation. They seemed to be getting along perfectly together: there could be no mistaking the picture he saw before him. Sylvia told Daniel when she was alone with him that she had taken a great liking to Dorothea. She remarked that her cheerfulness was irresistible and contagious, and that when she was with children she became a child herself.

Yet, despite all this, Sylvia studied Daniel. And when Dorothea was present she studied her too: she cast fleeting, searching, unassured glances at them—at Daniel and at Dorothea.

Daniel and Dorothea were married on a sunny day in December.

[405]DOROTHEA

I

For the past fortnight, Philippina and Agnes had been living at Frau Hadebusch’s. A message came from Daniel telling Philippina that she and Agnes should return, or, if she preferred to stay with Frau Hadebusch, she should send Agnes home at once.

“There you have it,” said Frau Hadebusch, “the master speaks.”

“Ah, him—he’s been speakin’ to me for a long while. Much good it does him,” said Philippina. “The child stays with me, and I’m not going back. That settles it! What, Agnes? Yes?”

Agnes was sitting on the bench by the stove with Henry the idiot, reading the greasy pages of a cheap novel. When Philippina spoke to her, she looked up in a distracted way and smiled. The twelve-year-old child had a perfectly expressionless face; and as she never got out of the house for any length of time, her skin was almost yellow.

“It ain’t no use to try to buck him,” continued Frau Hadebusch, who looked as old as the mountains and resembled generally a crippled witch, “he c’n demand the kid, and if he does he’ll git her. If you ain’t careful, I’ll get mixed up in the mess before long.”

“Well, how do you feel about it, Agnes? Do you want to go back to your daddy?” said Philippina, turning to the girl, and looking at Frau Hadebusch in a knowing way.

Agnes’s face clouded up